It’s been a long road, but I have finally, FINALLY, found a French author I love. I thought it would never happen, but George Sand is quite lovely.
Fanchon the Cricket, or La Petite Fadette, is a beautiful book, almost an adult fairy tale. Twins are born to a prosperous farmer with an already large family. His wife despairs, knowing that twins are notoriously hard to raise. The local medicine woman (see also: witch) whom everyone fears/hates, and warns her–don’t raise them the same. Put them in different clothes, make them play separately, and give them different jobs.
Do they listen? Of course not! The family is already large, and there is no reason to hire a nurse for one of the babies when Mom has enough milk for both (the advice had been to nurse apart), and as the boys grew they were inseparable at everything, down to their color preferences on scarves. However, at age 15, there was only space for one to be apprenticed, and the younger, being slightly more independent, took the job. His brother Sylvain was devastated, and visited almost every day. He couldn’t stand to be separated.
One day, hurt from Landry’s growing independence, he disappears into the woods. Landry meets a wild young girl, Fanchon, while trying to find him. She helps him, but in return, Landry has to promise to dance with her. I’ll stop here as I don’t want to give any more away, but drama ensues.
This is a classic story of not judging a book by it’s cover. The judgment is harsh in this one. I will say there is a bit of a “take the glasses off the nerd and she’s way prettier” kind of bibbity-bobbity-boop element, but the moral is more about the reverse–pointing the finger at the judgement of others.
It also focuses pretty strongly on depression as a physical illness, which I found interesting. I wish I didn’t find that character absolutely obnoxious, but I appreciated that his infirm was treated as such a big deal, and more than once.
This is a short book, but a big one, and one I will read more than once. It is going on my “To Buy” list for sure, I definitely need it on my shelf pronto!