This is, in part, a story about young Ludo living in rural France in 1932 - and then, as that decade moves inexorably to war and resistance, Ludo's developing love and longing for Lila. But this is also a story, affectionately told, about community, a way of life, and how people remain resilient and retain their pride and dignity in the face of occupation. The Kites is a book that glows, as if it were haloed in a warm embracing light.
I swallowed the 'even Ludo' without too much difficulty. I had good reason to feel satisfied: Hans was silent. He had turned his head away, and I couldn't see his face, but secretly, I rejoiced. I had trouble seeing how he could explain to Lila that he, too, had a brilliant future ahead of him, that he was entering a German military academy, because he was in love with a Polish girl. In that regard, I felt I had my hands on something good and solid, as we say around here, and I was not about to let go of it. I even allowed myself the luxury of feeling a little bit of pity for my rival. Times were hard for Teutonic knights. Indeed, it was undeniable that pleasing a woman was becoming a taller and taller order: America had already been discovered, as had the sources of the Nile; Lindbergh had already crossed the Atlantic; Mallory had scaled Mount Everest.
The five of us were still near to the naïvetés of childhood - which may be the most fertile portion life gives us, and the takes away.