by Kaylie Jones ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 1, 1990
From the author of Quite the Other Way (1989), an amiably fresh and funny novella about the Parisian childhood of Charlotte Anne Willis, the daughter of a famous expatriate writer. Channe (so called because in French Charlotte Anne sounds like ""charlatan"") is a difficult, bossy, petted four-year-old at the beginning here, crazy with jealousy over the impending arrival of an adopted French brother precisely her age. Benoit--who will choose for himself the name Billy--turns out to be a veritable urchin; for weeks after he appears at the spacious Isle Saint-Louis apartment of the Willises, he refuses to let his suitcase out of his sight. Besides Billy, the mainstays in Channe's life are her doting Portuguese nanny, Candida, and her kind, understanding, and remarkably liberal-minded father, whose only fault seems to be that he spends so much time locked in his study writing. Jones charts the touchy relationship between Channe and Billy, pointing up the boy's amusing efforts to Americanize himself and Channe's volatile career at a bilingual school, where she makes it her mission to investigate all the little boys' ""zizis."" However, when she turns 15, Bill Willis has a heart attack and decides to take his family back to America. For Channe, the adjustment to her father's fragile health and a new school and country is exacerbated by the fact that she's also discovering sex. But after a long heart-to-heart with her father on the subject, Channe gets on the right track, and even proves strong enough to handle his inevitable death. The story closes with a jarring switch in focus, revealing the story of Billy's true parentage as chronicled in a diary kept by his underaged, unwed mother. The result: an oddly shaped, unfinished-feeling tale that nonetheless has its Madeleine-esque charms and will undoubtedly leave readers pondering to what degree it's based on fact--since, of course, Kaylie is the daughter of that famous expatriate writer James Jones.
Pub Date: July 1, 1990
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1990
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