I found this book at a flea market last fall, and bought it with a book of Mozart’s piano sonatas for $1! At the time, all I really noticed was that it was a Paul Gallico book with a title that I didn’t recognize from my mom’s bookshelf. I didn’t realize how lucky I was with my purchase until I got home and looked at it more closely. Not only was the book a first edition that was in pretty good condition, but its story was the basis for one of my favorite films as a kid: Lili
, with Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer!Love of Seven Dolls
is certainly a much darker story than the one portrayed in the film. After being fired from her job, Mouche no longer knows what to do. She’s an orphan, with no home and little money. She’s skinny and plain, and all the managers at the cafés and review shows where she applied for work told her that with her looks and lack of talent, she’d only inspire pity from their patrons. As she reflects on her woes and contemplates suicide, a little voice calls out to her—a wooden puppet named Carrot Top, who offers her a means of escape by joining his traveling show.
As a kid watching the film, I was always fascinated at how the puppets came to life through their interactions with the girl and seeing them through her innocent eyes. It was like magic. When reading the book, Gallico’s able to instill that same feeling through his prose. But here it has a greater significance. Mouche’s relationship with these seven dolls is like a balm. It helps her retain her sense of innocence, and helps her temporarily forget the abuse she suffers at the hands of her boss Capitaine Coq (Michel Peyrot). Michel is certainly a complex character with a sordid past, interlaced with lots of pain and suffering from childhood on. Yes, he’s a bastard, especially in his actions towards Mouche. He can’t tolerate constantly witnessing Mouche’s youth and innocence, the feelings he was denied from having even as a young boy, so he can only reason that he must destroy and corrupt it. But I do like the theory brought out in the book by Golo: Nothing is entirely bad or evil, that there’s still a soul or conscience, though it’s buried deeply. Golo and Mouche see it manifested in those seven dolls, each one bearing flaws, but also seeking approval, assurance, care and love.
Definitely a good read and another favorite of mine. Though I still can’t quite come to terms that this is a book that comes from the same author that wrote The Poseidon Adventure.