Clair-de-Lune, orphaned as a baby when her dancer mother dies on stage of a broken heart, lives at the top of a tall house with her grandmother, whose only wish for her is that she devote her life to dance. An elective mute, she is befriended by Bonaventure, a talking mouse with ambition. He leads her to the monastery mysteriously hidden in the walls of her house, where she begins to learn about speaking, and the power of love.
Part fable, part fairytale, threaded with allusions to ballets such as The Dying Swan and The Firebird, this is a compelling tale of love and loss, disappointment and fulfilment, set in a past recognisable but indefinable, simply told and gently resolved. Clair-de-Lune’s understanding of her own reluctance to speak is carefully unfolded, and the interweaving of the lives of the three generations well-handled. In counterpoint, the story of Bonaventure’s miniature ballet school, his life’s ambition, provides a parallel illustration of a life lived for Art. Unlikely as it all may sound, it works, and I was thoroughly absorbed.