is the story of Antoinete, a little girl brought to England just before World War II, and the elderly friend she lives with when her parents, caught on the continent by the beginning of war, are forced to return to America.
During the long years that follow, Antoinette and her foster mother develop an unusual relationship, something especially moving - for Antoinette is retarded, an "innocent". Her movements are clumsy and uncoordinated; her vocabulary is nonexistent; many things frighten her, causing her to be sick or to hide for hours in the garden.
But slowly she begins to change and develop - and so does her foster mother. They become indispensible to each other, discovering new things together, growing together. Antoinette becomes less frightened and starts to delight in objects and words like "pepper," "hello" and "tureen". And then it happens. Antoinette's mother returns to England to "collect" her child - Antoinette's beautiful, society mother who refuses to admit that her child is "not quite like other children," who insists that psychoanalysis and speech therapy are all that Antoinette needs, who is virtually a stranger to her own daughter.
And Antoinette begins to fade again, turning back into a little animal, losing her thoughts and her words. Something must be done for her, and soon - but the only person who can help, the only one who has ever really understood her, is powerless to do anything but stand by and watch.
Original title: The Innocents
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction