observations: Should be read with previous entry on this book, which explains the plot.
This is Tina’s godmother speaking, reporting by letter to Mathilde. Tina is a wonderful character, because she does not ever appear directly in the book, she is always being glimpsed through other people’s eyes. Eventually there will be a letter from her, but her speech and appearance are always reported, mediated. In the film she appears a fair bit, and is marvellously played by Marion Cotillard (pre-Piaf), as the subtlety of her non-appearance in the book could not be maintained.
When you finally find out what she is up to and what has become of her, it is a shocking twist. Her lover Ange has been with Mathilde’s fiancé Manech at the frontline: they are sent to die together. Although Ange is clearly shown as, pretty much, a worthless brute, while Tina is a prostitute, Japrisot treats them as no less important than the other characters. Tina and Mathilde are both trying to find out exactly what happened to the men.
As well as being a great book about war, the details of life in France are fascinating – and details are something Japrisot is very good at (the red mitten, the motor-bike, the plane tree and the poplar tree), along with dialogue and funny sideways comments – this is Mathilde:
Just as she is about to sit down at the table for her last meal with the family – no, I don’t hate you but how I’d like to strangle a few of you – she receives a telephone call…The call contains devastating news, and it is the typical Japrisot touch to have such a light-hearted leadup to it.
Links on the blog: This book before. For other Christmas entries click on Xmas below. Louisa May Alcott’s heroine is offered clothes in velvet with a muff.
The picture is a fashion magazine illustration of clothes designed by Madeleine Cheruit, who has featured before several times on the blog.