“Few gypsies want to be seen as poor, although many are. Such was the case with old Angelina’s sons, who possessed nothing other than their caravan and their gypsy blood. But it was young blood that coursed through their veins, a dark and vital flow that attracted women and fathered numberless children. And, like their mother, who had known the era of horses and caravans, they spat upon the very thought that they might be pitied.” So begins the story of a matriarch and her tribe, ostracized by society and exiled to the outskirts of the city. Esther, a young librarian from the town, comes to the camp to introduce the children to books and stories. She gradually gains their confidence, and accompanies them, as observer and participant, through an eventful and tragic year in all their lives.
Alice Ferney’s distinctive style powerfully involves the reader in the family’s roller-coaster existence, with its disasters, its comic moments and its battles against an uncomprehending, hostile world; in the love lives of the five boys, the bravery of the children, and eventually, in Angelina’s final gesture of defiance.