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Little Boy Lost

by Marghanita Laski
Persephone book no:

27 28 29

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A Well Full of Leaves
Regular price £14.00
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ISBN 9781903155172

'When I picked up this 1949 reprint I offered it the tenderly indulgent regard I would any period piece,' wrote Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian. 'As it turned out, the book survives perfectly well on its own merits - although it nearly finished me. If you like a novel that expertly puts you through the wringer, this is the one.

'Hilary Wainwright, poet and intellectual, returns after the war to a blasted and impoverished France in order to trace a child lost five years before. The novel asks: is the child really his? And does he want him? These are questions you can take to be as metaphorical as you wish: the novel works perfectly well as straight narrative. It's extraordinarily gripping: it has the page-turning compulsion of a thriller while at the same time being written with perfect clarity and precision.

'Had it not got so nerve-wracking towards the end, I would have read it in one go. But Laski's understated assurance and grip is almost astonishing. She has got a certain kind of British intellectual down to a tee: part of the book's nail-biting tension comes from our fear that Hilary won't do something stupid. The rest of Little Boy Lost's power comes from the depiction of post-war France herself. This is haunting stuff.'

Also available as a Persephone Classic and a Persephone e-book.

For more on Little Boy Lost, have a look at the Persephone Perspective.


The endpaper is a fabric designed in 1946 by the Hélène Gallèt studio in Paris - the green is reminiscent of bourgeois France, and the pattern has both fleur-de-lis and childlike, primitive stars.

Read What Readers Say

Annie Ernaux, ‘New York Times’

My favourite book no-one else has heard of.

BBC Radio 3

An astonishing portrayal of post-war France…

caro.reads.books via Instagram

So readable and gripping I couldn’t put it down. It is an interesting portrayal of post war France illuminating the scars of war and occupation. But it is so much more than that. I don’t want to recount the plot but I held my breath right up to the end.

readerlyjoy via Instagram

I’m impressed with the quality of the paper, the font and all the beautiful details, but the writing is the best part of all… It is a simple story, tenderly and beautifully told…

pipandloulit via Instagram

A very enjoyable read….Also this book has THE BEST ending. I’m not saying happy or sad, but it was very dramatic and gave me that rare satisfaction when finishing a read.

Categories: Fathers History Men (books about) Teenagers (books for) Thrillers WWII

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