Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: A Little Love by Susan E. Fletcher

Title: A Little Love
Author: Susan E. Fletcher
Published: August 25, 2015 by Chicken House (Scholastic)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Inspired by Victor Hugo's classic, Les Miserables, A Little in Love beautifully conveys the heartbreaking story of street girl Eponine. 

Paris, 1832 

A girl lies alone in the darkness, clutching a letter to her heart. 

Eponine remembers being a child: her swing and the peach tree, and the baby brother she loved. But mostly she remembers being miserable. Taught to lie and cheat, and to hate the one girl, Cosette, who might have been her friend. 

Now, at sixteen, the two girls meet again, and Eponine has one more chance. But what is the price of friendship--the love of a boy?

I learned about this book recently from Melissa of The Novelty Podcast. I couldn't believe that this book existed and I was only just learning about it. I mean this is a retelling about a classic I enjoy and about a character that I love. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have seen pictures of my cat. My cat who is named Eponine. My cat named after the MC in this book. So as soon as I learned about it I preordered this book and when I got to read it, I absolutely devoured it.

It is a fantastic retelling of a classic. The storyline from the original book is the blueprint and Susan Fletcher captures the sweeping drama, the political unrest, and tragic events of the original Les Miserables. And while that made for an engaging and interesting story, there were some moments within the book where the plot develop may have suffered because of the need to refer to things from the original. It didn't have a perfect narrative flow but it was a fantastic story. But one thing the author did really well is establish the world. You can also perfectly visualize the world around you. And just like the original, this is not a happy place. It's a place that is still recovering from a horrific civil war that left so many people poor and sick. The author adds those historical references to fill out the world but it's still really a character-driven story. And like all good retellings, that's one of the reasons it still felt fresh and interesting. Seeing the book from a different perspective, a character who is a minor role but has always left such an impression on readers.

That's part of what I loved about this book is the character of Eponine. We all know how things end for her right? If you don't the prologue makes things very clear. This is not a happy story. She is one of the most tragic characters in literature in my opinion. The best thing Eponine ever got is the song On My Own. Throughout most of Les Mis she is a poor street urchin who is used by her family to steal. The man she loves doesn't feel the same way and she is convinced to help him woo the girl he does love, someone from Eponine's past who she has basically swapped situations with. In this book, Eponine's character arc mirrors that of Jean Valjean's in the original novel. She is someone who is trying to make a better life for herself by doing good things for others while trying to escape her past. But unlike Valjean, we all know how Eponine's story ends and it's not happily. You can't help but empathize with this character who is treated with such disdain and still has kindness in her heart. I just want to be her friend, to show her the love that she so desperately wants.

But Eponine is not the only familiar character who we see in this book. Even Javert and Enjolras make quick appearances. And of course the Thenardiers make a big appearance in this book. If you are only familiar with the musical you may be surprised by some of their attributes. They're not the fun comic relief characters that you're used to. They're gruff and brutal in their treatment of others. They're the villains here and it makes Eponine more likable and sympathetic. We also have of course, Marius and Cosette. There has been some conversations recently within the bookish community about love triangles (check out this article) and here is one that always breaks my heart. And seeing this book from the perspective of the one who isn't chosen proved that even more.

But I think my favorite thing about this book was Susan Fletcher's writing. It reminded me so much of Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. It had the same kind of tone and lyricism. It is this heavy and emotional read but it also has the beauty to it. To get into the head of a character who is sort of an observer of the world around her while desiring something she never really achieves makes it's beautiful and tragic at the same time. She captures the sense of desire that Eponine has for a better life and to find someone or somewhere that she fits in and feels love. It's told in first person perspective but you almost have this out of book experience while reading it.

I loved this book so much. It is a beautiful and emotional story of a young woman who you can't help but want to see succeed but in the back of your mind you know that's not possible. It's a short and engaging read that will appeal to fans of the original novel as well as the musical adaptation.

I give A Little Love by Susan E. Fletcher 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I may be a little biased, this is a book about one of my favorite characters but it's just fantastic. If you are a fan of the original novel or are just looking for a retelling, a character-driven book full of feels, or historical fiction novel full of beautiful writing and emotion then pick this book up. It's tragic and gorgeous at the same time and I just adored it.

Have you read A Little Love? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.


  1. I've never read Les Miserables, because it's super long. BUT, I'm really interested in the story for some reason. Don't know why. Maybe this one will be a good place to start. I'll have to think on it. Loved your review!

  2. How did I not know about this book? I LOVE Eponine. She's my favorite character of the musical (I didn't read the book...yet!) and I really want to read this retelling.

  3. I had to wait to read your review until I had written my own. It'll go up tomorrow morning, but...I LOVED this book! I am so glad you listed it in your TTT on retellings. I have a little shout out to you in my post. I could not put this book down. It was amazing! I am happy I bought it because I will definitely read it again and again. I love Eponine, and this book give her so much depth. So fantastic. I will be checking out Tiger Lily too now since you said the writing style is similar. I loved Fletcher's writing in this book. I need to see if she's written anything. Great review. Great book. Yay!

  4. WHY DIDN'T I KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK??? Omg thank you for reviewing this Casi! I will get my hands on this one toute suite!