When the elderly Madame Préau returns to her own house after several years spent in a convalescent home, she immediately notices that the neighbourhood has changed. A new family has moved in next door and, from her window, she watches their three children playing in the garden after school.

Two of the children seem perfectly healthy, but Madame Préau is struck by the third child, who seems listless and stands apart from the others. When she reports this to social services, they refuse to believe her. Cut off some years ago from her own grandson, she begins a mission to help this boy, even when those around her start to fear for her sanity.

The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubiere

The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubiere

Upon leaving a cinema theatre, judging a film can be pretty immediate and not at all a private experience. Last night I spent the night with a bunch of gregarious Navy Seals – Lone Survivor – and as soon as the film ended you felt spent. A terrific movie, the audience let out a collective sigh and everyone had an opinion.

Reading is the polar opposite.

The journey is yours and yours alone. There’s no one you can say, did you read that? Sure you can talk to people if they’ve read the same book but as you progress through a book, for that journey it’s an entirely private experience and that’s what I love about it. It allows your imagination to run riot. As I closed The Stone Boy – written by French author Sophie Loubiere – for the last time late last night I let out a sigh, placed the book down on the side and wow, just wow!

It has been a long time since I read a French language book, the last time was at school when I was learning the language. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten far too much and couldn’t even attempt to read it in its native language but the great thing about this book is the translation, by Nora Mahony, still retains a wonderful French flavour throughout.

Despite its dark overture this is a beautifully written book and incredibly easy to read. The narrative begs you to turn the page and you want to know what happens next. The story itself begins slowly, you don’t have a clue what’s going on, slowly but surely things start to make sense but just as you settle down into a rhythm Loubiere twists the knife and turns things on its head.

Complex and brutal at times the book is character driven with Madame Préau taking the lead. I really didn’t know what to make of Préau and still don’t, although having finished the book I have a greater understanding to her personality, the reasons for her actions and what made her tick. For the majority of the book you think one way, but then with the introduction of new information, clever plotting and numerous twists and turns you begin to see her in a totally different light.

There’s so much I want to say about this book but I can’t. It’s impossible to delve too deeply in this review without giving something away but one thing I can promise is that it will take you through a range of emotions. It examines the strained relationship between mother and son, a son who has every right to hate his ageing mother. There are sections of the book that will inevitably shock, it will take your breath away and I can guarantee you won’t see cats in the same light again!

Wonderfully emotive and atmospheric, The Stone Boy is a dark psychological tale of love, courage, empathy and discovery. I can guarantee you’ll remember Madame Préau long after you turn the final page. Highly recommended. C’est Magnifique!!

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Trapdoor (27 Feb 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1847445837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847445834
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