One of the best I’ve read recently, Rooftoppers is exceptional, both for its narrative scope and emotional depth. It sucks you in from the first page – with the discovery of Sophie, a baby in a cello case, left adrift and orphaned after a ship has sunk – to the very last, where Sophie scrambles across the rooftops of Paris in search of her long lost mother.
How exciting to discover an author who is capable of producing such a complete and imaginative book, particularly when the basic story (orphan goes on quest to find parents) is a familiar narrative path. But the endearing peculiarities of the characters – not least Matteo, a fellow-orphan who scratches out a tough, miserable existence high above the Paris streets – makes this one stand out from the crowd.
The real nugget is the tender relationship between Sophie and Charles, the eccentric scholar who adopts her and brings her up in a beautifully-observed maelstrom of well-meaning chaos, intellectual rebellion and, above all, adoration and love.
The sense of ordinary people doing extraordinary things – raising an unknown child, looking for a parent everyone who everyone believes is dead, finding friendship in unexpected places – is reminiscent of one of my favourite adult novels, ‘Any Human Heart’ by William Boyd.
They share a common thread – both, and this from a man raised in the best traditions of keeping a stiff upper lip, brought a tear to my eye. A fabulous book.