Our book circle have just read Marghanita Laski’s fine 1949 novel Little Boy Lost. A dark, sombre, restrained book which I can warmly recommend.
An Englishman, Hilary Wainwright, returns to the chaos and ruins of Paris after WW2 in search of his lost son whose mother was murdered by the Gestapo. It’s an atmospheric portrait of post-war France: poverty, bereavement, black marketing and people trying to do the best they can in a very bad situation.
Wainwright is a successful avant-garde poet and not a very attractive character. He’s snobbish, judgemental, lecherous, terrified of emotional commitment and lacking in gratitude to all those who help him in his quest. His only redeeming feature is the kindness he shows to the orphan boy who he believes to be his son.
Hollywood bought the rights and made it into a film. To reach a broader audience they made the central character an American. Regretable, but not understandable. (It worked OK with John Cusack in High Fidelity). And then they did the casting. Who did they choose? That charming, affable crooner Bing Crosby. What’s worse, he keeps breaking into song.
Laski had kittens when she saw the film.
What next, » Continue Reading.