Cover image for The kites
Title:
The kites
Author:
Gary, Romain, author.
ISBN:
9780811226547
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
311 pages ; 22 cm.
Abstract:
"On a small farm in Normandy, as Hitler rises to power in Germany, young Ludo comes of age in the care of his Uncle Ambrose, an eccentric mailman, kite-maker, and pacifist. Ludo's quiet existence changes the day he meets Lila, a girl from the aristocratic Polish family who own the estate next door. In a single glance, Ludo instantly falls in love forever; Lila, on the other hand, remains elusive. Thus begins Ludo's adventure of longing, passion, and steadfast love for Lila, who begins to reciprocate his feelings just as Europe descends into war. After Germany invades Poland, Lila and her family disappear, and Ludo's journey to save her from the Nazis becomes a journey to save his loved ones, his country, and ultimately himself. Filled with unforgettable characters, an indomitable chef who believes Michelin stars are more enduring than military conquests; a Jewish brothel Madam who reinvents everything about herself during the war; a piano virtuoso turned RAF pilot. The Kites is Romain Gary's poetic call for resistance in whatever form it takes."--Amazon.com

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Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Adult Fiction Book
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West Elmira Library 1 FICTION New books
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Summary

Summary

Now in English for the first time, Romain Gary's final masterpiece begins with Ludo coming of age on a small farm in Normandy, under the care of his eccentric kite-making Uncle Ambrose. Ludo's life changes the day he meets Lila, a girl from the aristocratic Polish family that owns the estate next door. In a single glance, Ludo falls in love forever; Lila, on the other hand, disappears back into the woods. And so begins Ludo's adventure of longing, passion, and steadfast love for the elusive Lila, who begins to reciprocate his feelings just as Europe descends into World War II. After Germany invades Poland, Lila and her family go missing, and Ludo's devotion to saving her from the Nazis becomes a journey to save his love, his loved ones, his country, and ultimately himself.

Filled with unforgettable characters who, as the war goes on, fling all they have into the fight to keep their hopes--and themselves--alive,The Kites is Romain Gary's poetic call for resistance in whatever form it takes. A war hero himself, Gary embraced and fought for humanity in all its nuanced complexities, in the belief that a hero might be anyone who has the courage to love and hope.


Author Notes

Romain Gary (1914-1980) was born Roman Kacew in Vilnius to a family of Lithuanian Jews. He changed his name when he fled Nazi-occupied France to fight for the British as an RAF pilot. He wrote under several pen names and is the only writer to have received the Prix Goncourt twice. A diplomat and filmmaker, Gary was married to the American actress Jean Seberg. He died in Paris in 1980 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Miranda Richmond Mouillot is a writer and translator and the author of A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France. She won a PEN/Heim Translation Award for The Kites.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Published for the first time in English, this novel from Gary (The Roots of Heaven), two-time winner of the Prix Goncourt, follows a young man's passion through the ravages of WWII. Ludo lives with his uncle, kite maker Ambrose Fleury, in the small town of Cléry in the French countryside. Ludo, like everyone in the Fleury family, has an impressive "historical memory" that earns him the ire of his teachers and arguments with Lila, the object of his affection, who isn't as keen as Ludo to rehash the country's recent bloody history. Lila, the mercurial, naive daughter of Polish aristocrats, waffles about her own identity or plays at pushing Ludo away, but never truly takes on the contours of a fully-formed character. While characterizations of Lila can be maddeningly flat, Ludo's foray into the French Resistance-set against the backdrop of German-occupied France-is beautifully rendered. Gary handles the emotional tightrope of espionage and the brutal reality of battle with clarity and precision, all captured magnificently by Mouillot's translation: "I would climb the wall and go to wait for Lila in the lane of chestnut trees, and the stone bench, which had with the moonlight exchanged nothing but chill and emptiness for so long, welcomed us with friendship." This is a wonderful translation of a French classic. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Unbelievably, two-time Prix Goncourt winner Gary's luminous last work is only now appearing in English, but it was worth the wait. Introducing us to Norman lad Ludo Fleury; his only presumably batty uncle Ambrose, the maker of magnificent kites; Lila Bronicki, the imperious Polish girl whose family has an estate nearby; and extended Bronicki family members, including German cousin Hans, Ludo's rival for Lila's affections, Gary chronicles a fraught love affair with the ominous buildup to World War II as a backdrop. Then he roars absorbingly into the war itself and its counterbalance, the Resistance. Ludo's determination always to love glorious drama-queen Lila, even as her family scorns him and war's tragedies unfold, echoes the steely certainty of local chef Marcellin Duprat, who serves Germans at his Michelin-starred restaurant during the occupation to demonstrate that French honor and standards will not bend. Gary uses limpid, accessible language (deftly translated) to deliver certain truths: memory can ground us or blind us; imagination, perhaps even a bit of craziness, is essential for survival; and we cannot easily be divided into heroes and villains. VERDICT Smart and wonderfully life-affirming; for a wide range of readers. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 35.] © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

'I hear you've been waiting for me for four years...' She laughed. 'You didn't even forget the sugar!'
'I never forget anything.'

Excerpted from The Kites by Romain Gary All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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