AFTERWORD BY ANNE SEBBA
'When I picked up this 1949 reprint I offered it the tenderly indulgent regard I would any period piece,' wrote Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian. 'As it turned out, the book survives perfectly well on its own merits - although it nearly finished me. If you like a novel that expertly puts you through the wringer, this is the one.
'Hilary Wainwright, poet and intellectual, returns after the war to a blasted and impoverished France in order to trace a child lost five years before. The novel asks: is the child really his? And does he want him? These are questions you can take to be as metaphorical as you wish: the novel works perfectly well as straight narrative. It's extraordinarily gripping: it has the page-turning compulsion of a thriller while at the same time being written with perfect clarity and precision.
'Had it not got so nerve-wracking towards the end, I would have read it in one go. But Laski's understated assurance and grip is almost astonishing. She has got a certain kind of British intellectual down to a tee: part of the book's nail-biting tension comes from our fear that Hilary won't do something stupid. The rest of Little Boy Lost's power comes from the depiction of post-war France herself. This is haunting stuff.'
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The endpaper is a fabric designed in 1946 by the Hélène Gallèt studio in Paris - the green is reminiscent of bourgeois France, and the pattern has both fleur-de-lis and childlike, primitive stars.