Monday, 31 August 2015

A Little in Love

A Little in Love was another book that I swooped on and bought immediately when I saw it whilst browsing my local bookshop, last year I think. The French flags naturally drew my interest, and that subtitle Eponine's Story from Les Misérables. I've had a growing love affair with Les Mis since I saw the recent movie version in 2012 (see my review), three times I think at the cinema. Then I saw the stage show in Melbourne twice last year and went to an exhibition about Les Mis the book and the stageshow. The stageshow is on in Sydney at the moment, and of course I hope to go.

I do really want to read the book, but my reading dance card is so full that it's not easy to sneak in a 1232 page whopper any old time when I always struggle with books over 500 pages. Recently I listened to the wonderful BBC full cast dramatisation of Les Misérables (see my review), and so the story has been on my mind. Rather unusually I had some spare reading time and figured that A Little in Love would make a nice comfort read. It did.

I was particularly attracted to the notion of Eponine's story. She has a particularly tragic story in the movie, and Samantha Barks is magnificent.

A Little in Love grabs your attention from the start, as Eponine lays dying, shot on the Rue de la Chanvrerie (now Rue Rambuteau).

I'm dying. There's no use hoping I'll live or telling myself, Keep going, it's only a small wound. There's too much blood on the ground.
I'm going to die in this street.

That's some start. We then go back to her childhood, born in a hayfield, and growing up in her parent's inn, The Sergeant of Waterloo, brought up to steal from the guests, from anyone. From an early age Eponine doesn't like her family way of business.

All we do is steal. It seemed to be all we ever did or talked about. Wasn't there another way of living?

The Thénadiers have a fascinating back story. The inn in Montfermeil. Three children! Eponine, Azelma and Gavroche. Years on the run from the law, finally ending up in Paris. The descriptions of the squalor of 1832 Paris are shocking for those of us in her thrall. After all, 1832 is the pre-Haussmann era with slums aplenty. Poverty, crime and disease abound. Many of the iconic Paris landmarks are still to come into being - Notre Dame, the Luxembourg Gardens and Saint Sulpice are all there of course, but the Eiffel Tower has not been conceived of, and neither has Sacre Coeur.

The heat meant that everything- rubbish, milk, human muck, the offal by the butcher's doors- rotted far more quickly. A stench seemed to rise from the river as well. Some people walked with handkerchiefs held over their noses, or with posies in their hand. 

I'm not sure what, if any, liberties Susan Fletcher took with Victor Hugo's most famous and enduring story, but A Little in Love was a quick compelling read. I still look forward to reading the original sometime.

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog 

French Bingo 2015


Sim Carter said...

Agree 100% about Samantha Barks; she was sensational! I remember the rumors at the time that Hooper was going to cast Lea Michele from the TV show Glee. Ugh! So happy he went with Barks instead. A Little Love sounds good, thanks for the review.

Paulita said...

Louise, I haven't heard about this book, but it sounds terrific. I'll put it on my list. Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

Teddyree said...

A Little Love is new to me, adding it to my list, maybe for next year's Paris in July. It will probably take me that long to read a chunkster like that lol. Les Mis is in Brisbane from Nov and I'm hoping to go :)