by Linda Donn (read July 2006)
Sophie is a 'woman with courage' who marries the older Jean Pierre Blanchard, a balloonist, but is still in love with her childhood playmate, Andre. She attracts the interests of Napolean Bonaparte and becomes his 'official little ballonist'. The story reads like a young adult novel - quite simply simple. I enjoyed it, but didn't feel like there was a lot of depth. Several of the characters are from history: Napolean, Duguerre, Goethe and Blanchard but Sophie is ficticious. Which is weird because Blanchard did have a wife who took over flying his balloons and bringing in the paycheck just as Sophie did in the book. I enjoyed The Little Balloonist because it was entertaining, but mostly because I learned a tiny bit about these people and time period of French history. I'm only going to give this book a 3.5 rating out of a possible 5. Not a book to get too excited about, but not a waste of time either.
Sophie's marriage to Blanchard was arranged before she was even born. The night Sophie's parents received the letter saying he was coming to marry their daughter, her parents fought. There voices were soft, "but then her mother's voice grew sharp, until an unusual, harsh response from her father ended the conversation. To Sophie the sound was like fabric tearing, like something that maight be mended but would never be the same."
Something that made me chuckle: "At midnight she was asleep beneath a comforter when he walked into the bedroom and sat down on her. As Sophie stuggled out from under him, he stared. 'How am I to know you are lying in a bed if it is as flat as a crepe?' He teased. For days, on entering the room, he asked the bed quite formally if anyone was in it."