The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery
The Life of Elves
Muriel Barbery - Translated by Alison Anderson
Set in some vaguely bygone era when villagers gathered in each other’s houses on a winter’s evening to gossip and get tipsy, this tale begins with the mysterious appearance of the two baby girls, Clara and Maria, one on the steps of a rustic village church in Italy, one near a farmhouse in rural France. The girls are fostered by the simple and sincere people who find them, and cherished for the joy they bring into the lives of those they love. The girls’ deep understanding and love of the land that nurtures them eventually sees them learning about the elven gifts that have been bestowed on them from birth. When war approaches from beyond the borders of the earthly and the elven worlds, the girls’ talents come to the fore, and they form an alliance against an apparently insurmountable enemy. This is a truly enchanting story, beautifully told and rich in meaning. To categorise a book as a fairytale doesn’t necessarily do it justice, or bring it to the attention of the widest audience, and this book truly deserves to be read by story lovers of all ages.