My rants and reviews
by Muriel Barbery
This Fantasy story has a very fairytale-like tone to the narration and starts rather abruptly, as if in the middle of the story, but the reader soon catches up and the situation becomes apparent. A foundling child, Clara, appears under mysterious circumstances and is adopted into a Christian home to have a normal human childhood, but something about her is very fairy-like.
Another child, Maria, who "talks like most people sing" is adopted in similarly strange circumstances in Italy. The connection between these little girls becomes apparent as the story unfolds.
There is very little dialogue, especially in the early chapters, but the story is told in an adult's version of the fairy-tale storytelling voice with a sort of dreamy quality. It is not an immersive read, yet it is entertaining enough to keep reading, despite sketchy description of what's going on. A lot of new characters are introduced through the story and their non-human nature is often inferred more than made clear.
There are digressions to tell background stories of various characters and sometimes it really is like following a dream, jumping from one sequence to another with only a tentative hold on the connections, but all is made clear by the end. I noted in the acknowledgements that it is translated from French, which explains some of this.
Overall a pleasant Fantasy read, but not one that will stimulate the emotions to a great extent