The difficult life of author Gille, a well-known publisher's editor who had lost her Russian-born mother during WW II and who died in 1996, is memorably fictionalized in this dramatically detailed story of another war orphan. Five-year-old LÆ’a Levy is hidden in a convent when the collaborationist Vichy regime sends her parents to their deaths in a concentration camp. LÆ’a's friendship with a slightly older girl BÆ’nÆ’dicitÆ’ (their adventures together will remind many readers of the harrowing wartime film Forbidden Games), her innocent need to know where her family has gone, and her painful readjustment to ""normal"" life in the decade after the war are rendered with a translucent simplicity that's enormously affecting. Gille's third novel, and her first to appear in English, gracefully displays the best qualities of both fiction and memoir. Unpretentious, and unforgettable.