Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels

I read Fugitive Pieces around about the time it won the Orange Prize for Fiction (which is now the Women's Prize).

I fell in love with Anne Michaels ability to weave magic with her words. I remember being completely under her spell for the entire story. I felt bereft when it finished.

When I recently spotted that Michaels had written a children's book, I swooned with anticipation.

How could I not fall instantly in love?

Cats, delicious food, magic flying tablecloths and lots of gorgeous wordplays littered the pages of this illustrated chapter book. It all looked and sounded so promisingly delightful.

But something didn't zing for me.

Each chapter had lots of fun wordy digressions,
Some words are like a hailstorm during the middle of a picnic, or a flat tyre on a lovely journey, or a fallen tree across a path, and these words stop a story immediately and swivel it off in another direction entirely. Words like BUT, HOWEVER, IF ONLY, SADLY and UNFORTUNATELY.
Sadly, for me, these wordy digressions were more exciting than the actual story. The adventures were not the right size for me (see pg 11), they were even decidedly, ho-hum (see pg 18).

Which is such a pity.

The back cover has a lovely quote that says,
Five utterly captivating stories of gentle adventure, delicious edibles (with cheese for the cats), occasional peril and heart-zinging warmth.
Which helped me realise that what this book was missing was the emotion.
I felt no peril, no zing or glow of warmth. In the end I didn't care what happened to Miss Petitfour or her cats.

I really, really, really wanted to love this book, which is why I have spent so much time trying to work out what went wrong.

This is now my second attempt to get into the story.
I gave it up a few weeks ago thinking my life was too busy and hectic to appreciate it properly.

I have now had a lovely relaxing, soothing summer holiday. But this quaint, gentle tale still failed to capture my imagination or my heart.

Unfortunately, I need more drama than this story offers up. I need more character development. I need a reason to go along for the ride.

And Emma Block's sweet, charming illustrations have not been reason enough.


  1. Oh what a shame Brona, I thought it sounded delicious too. I don't think I read Fugitive Pieces way back when, but I know I meant to. Anne Michaels name hadn't rung a bell with me. I'd still like to read it, maybe I'll like it more than you did?

    1. I'd love to see what someone else thinks of this book Louise. I checked out some other reviews after I wrote this and saw that it was one of those books that divides people into the love it/didn't love it camps.


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