Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

Author:  Mathias Malzieu, translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone     

Publication date: 2009

Category: Fairytale love story, with a little bit of steampunk.

Who'll want to read it? The broken hearted. Also anyone who loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

Point of no return:  The first page: "In which Little Jack is born on the coldest day on earth and miraculously resuscitated......The old river usually so serious, is disguised as an icing sugar lake that stretches all the way to the sea. The din of the surf rings out like the sound of windows smashing. Miraculously, the hoarfrost stitches sequins on to cats' bodies. The trees stretch their arms, like fat fairies in white nightshirts yawning at the moon...."

Classic line:  "Firstly: don't touch the hands of your cuckoo-clock heart. Secondly: master your anger. Thirdly: never, ever fall in love. For if you do, the hour hand will poke through your skin, your bones will shatter, and your heart will break once more." pg 24.

What's it all about? Set in late 19th Century Edinburgh and Spain, it's a bittersweet little book in which every line about love and hearts has a double meaning. It is so beautifully written that your eyes and your mind (or your own heart) experience the different meanings separately. Travel with Jack as he learns about life and love, despite his guardian's efforts to protect him from pain. I particularly enjoyed the appearance of Georges Meilies and his efforts to assist Jack in his search for Miss Acacia, the love of his life.

Publisher: Chatto & Windus

Something interesting: The author is lead singer of the French pop group Dionysos. You can watch the book trailer here with Dionysos performing. Apparently there is a whole album based on this novel and a film on the way courtesy of Luc Besson.