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Translated by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Published in France in 1980, The Kites is a beautifully written novel about the triumph of joy over darkness.
Set in Normandy before and during WW II, The Kites is narrated by a young orphan Ludo Fleury, who is madly in love with Lila de Bronicki, a charming and self-absorbed Polish aristocrat. Despite the looming war, Ludo remains obstinately in love with Lila, and becomes involved in the Resistance. Ludo’s uncle and guardian, the colourful Ambroise Fleury, a passionate amateur kite-maker, is deported to Auschwitz, while Ambroise’s best friend, Marcellin Duprat, one of France’s greatest chefs, battles the Occupation with an unrelenting love of haute cuisine, and Julie Espinoza, a Parisian madame refashions herself as a collaborationist countess, running a Resistance network under the noses of the Nazis.
Written by one of the greatest and best-loved French authors, The Kites is both a ripping good story and a sobering reflection on the tragic human tendency to search for an enemy. It’s funny and heartbreaking, dark and optimistic, tender and unsparing.
‘Gary is a good model for our own century of transnational lives.’
‘A rich and layered love story that begins in innocence and moves through hardship toward a broad humanity.’
‘The Kites is indeed a treasure, capable of accessing an enormous node of insight and almost-overwhelming beauty spliced with bittersweet candour.’