We've read the blurb, great, but what's the book really about?
Love and Invention is two interwoven stories. One is about a teenager, Maleck, who learns that his grandfather, Abbas Ibn Firnas, disappeared ten years previously. Maleck is passionate about cinema and has been making films since he was a kid in the rough neighbourhood in Paris where he grew up. He also has a special talent for getting in to trouble and a morbid attraction to fire. His parents decide to move back to the village in central France where his mother was born. Maleck struggles to settle in to village life and decides that he will run away back to Paris, until he becomes friends with an old woman who he discovers was his grandfather's lover. He also becomes friends with the Mayor of the village who is 84. Maleck decides that he's going to make a film about his Grandfather, but the village is an uncomfortable place for an outsider, and like I said, he has this talent for getting in to trouble.
The other story comes from the people that Maleck talks to. It is about his Grandfather, Abbas Ibn Firnas, and how he hid alone near the village during the war and how after the war had finished, he never managed to get away. He was a recluse, an inventor of flying machines, a philosopher and an amazing dancer. Maleck follows the life of Abbas from boyhood travelling around Europe on a theatre boat, through his relationships and on to his disappearance.
Perhaps the book is about wanting to run away and not managing. Perhaps it is about the connection between young and old people and the parallels and divergence between generations. It's definitely about identity, and not fitting in, it's about beauty in simple, unexpected things. It's about people being scary, and danger coming from all kinds of places, notably, the elements are always life threatening in this book. It's about not finding all the answers. It's about flying and it's about dancing in the face of difficulty.