A New York Times Notable Book of 2018
'A rebel French writer ... a brilliant storyteller, a master craftsman and one of France's most original writers' Independent
'The Kites is a novel touched from beginning to end with grace, a great saga about the innate dignity of love that succeeds in the feat of being funny and poetic, tender and sharp, committed and fierce, with a touch of brilliance in the art of dialogue' Muriel Barbery, author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog
A quiet village in Normandy, 1932. Ludo is ten years old and lives with his uncle, a kindly, eccentric creator of elaborate kites. One day, sitting in a strawberry field, Ludo meets the beautiful young Polish aristocrat Lila. And so begins Ludo's lifelong adventure of love and longing for Lila, who only begins to return his feelings just as Europe descends into the devastation of World War 2. After Poland and France fall, Lila and Ludo are separated. Ludo's friends in the village must find their own ways of resisting: the local restaurateur who is dedicated above all to France's haute cuisine, a Jewish brothel madam who sleeps with her unwitting enemies and Ludo, who cycles past the Nazis every day, passing on messages for the French Resistance - thinking always of Lila.
Romain Gary was one of the most important French writers of the 20th century. He won the once-in-a-lifetime honour the Prix Goncourt twice, the only person ever to have done so, by writing under a secret nom de plume. He was married to the American actress Jean Seberg and served in the RAF during WW2. He died in Paris in 1980 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, shortly after completing this haunting last work.