Puppy love

THE WAY I FOUND HER by Rose Tremain Sinclair-Stevenson pounds 15.99

This novel has the sparkle of sunlight on water. Rose Tremain's writing has always been characterised by its intelligence, poise and formal control, but to those qualities she now adds great warmth and compassion. Reading this story of love in Paris, you feel it's been written with a light touch, by someone who's happy and who loves Paris as much as her protagonist, who's enjoying herself as she whirls us along the boulevards, cracks jokes and tugs mercilessly on our heart-strings.

The charm of the book has a lot to do with the tone set by the narrator. During the hot summer of 1994 Lewis Little, aged 13, is visiting Paris for the first time. He and his translator mother, Alice, are staying with the best-selling Russian novelist Valentina Gavrilovich in her luxurious apartment so that Alice can get cracking on Valentina's latest medieval romance, translating it as it is produced. Meanwhile, Lewis takes the dog Sergei for walks, explores the city, thinks furiously about everything and everyone he encounters, and falls deeply in love.

The story is narrated by Lewis in the third person. We hear the inner voice running in his head. This is an accepted convention, but it has its difficulties. The inside of a person's mind is not a book. How would we read that? A novel is written, but this tradition of eavesdropping on private thoughts denies that. I decided to believe I was listening in on the conversations Lewis has right at the end with a person called Daniel, the only person, you imagine, that Lewis might finally be able to confide in about the tragedy that has befallen him. Poor Lewis, who starts out full of gaiety and wisecracks, eventually comes a cropper.

Such is Rose Tremain's skill that she simply bewitches you into believing what she tells you. It can be so rapturous, that experience of falling under the story-teller's spell and plunging into another world, accepting the illusion for reality, that you happily shelve all your doubts about whether the journey is actually possible. So although Lewis, as tour-guide to the Parisian landscape of the heart, is almost incredibly sophisticated and 50 times sweeter and nicer than many adolescents, you believe in him because you wish to. Lewis's observations on French street life and manners, and on the idiocies of grown-ups, are so drolly acute that you smile with pleasure. He even reads novels in French. What a doll.

Rose Tremain has a lot of fun with her various sub-plots. There's the secret door in Lewis's bathroom, the existentialist builder working on the roof who may be giving Alice extra philosophy lessons at night, the religion-mad Russian mother who knows the secrets of Valentina's past, the anguished writer in exile whose novels may be being plagiarised, the sweetie-pie father back home making a surprise for Alice and not realising what's going on, the maid Violette with her magical powers and her nostalgia for Africa, the kindly gay who helps Lewis solve the big mystery around which swirl and glitter all the others.

These characters are drawn with affection and amusement, perhaps most of all Valentina, a Colette-like figure with her voluptuous body, yellow satin sandals and sensual relish of the good things of life. Like Colette, too, she has a penchant for personable and wide-eyed boys, as Lewis finds to his delight. Sexy feelings burst up and explode like champagne froth in the pavement cafes, and you frolic along with it all. You too are in Paris, on holiday, caught in up heat and enchantment.

The mood abruptly darkens in the final third of the book, when events take a sombre turn. Perhaps because I was unwilling to let go of the sunniness that had gone before I found the melodramatic denouement hard to swallow. Read it simply as part of Lewis's fantasy, however, his need to play knight- errant to his beloved's languishing princess and to rescue her from danger, then you lie back and allow yourself to be convinced. Once more Rose Tremain beguiles you into suspending disbelief.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture