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A unique and fascinating perspective on Rousseau

I Think It Was Love

Kathleen Vereecken

‘I Think It Was Love’ tells the story of Leon, supposedly the son of famous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who wrote ‘Emile ou de l’éducation’. No one knew that he had taken his own five children to a foundling hospital. In the enlightened 18th century, Leon is abandoned and taken in by an uncaring foster mother. Méline, the daughter of the family, takes pity on the tough little boy and makes his hard life bearable. When she commits suicide, Leon knows there is only one thing he can do: live. So he sets off for Paris, looking for his roots and for love. In the chaotic underbelly of the city, he persists not only in his search for his mother, but also in his quest for education. But then he discovers who his father is...

An extraordinary novel, told in words and sentences of the finest crystal
De Standaard

Vereecken’s historical YA novel sweeps you along in an intense reading experience. The wonderfully evocative style brings to life the locations and the spirit of the age, in atmospheric, sensuous images. Vereecken slips a great deal of historical information into this extraordinary novel, without it ever seeming forced. Quite the contrary, in fact – her readers experience all the scents, colours and tastes of 18th century Paris as though they were there themselves.

Psychologically persuasive, with many philosophical and literary layers, that never have to make way for the plot
Boekenleeuw jury
'A coming-of-age story without a reading age'
Daniela Gamba, editor at Feltrinelli (former editor at Salani, where she published I Think It Was Love)

'I met Kathleen Vereecken during a publishers tour organized by Flanders Literature in 2008. I immediately fell in love with the main character of 'I Think It Was Love' and with the way Kathleen wrote, so I asked her how she knew in such a detailed way what Paris looked (and smelled!) like at the time of Jean-Jacques Rousseau , and how she came to write about his son. She told me she had done a lot of research about Rousseau’s life and that the main character came out of a picture at an exhibition: he wasn't the son of Rousseau of course, nobody knew who he was, but looking at that picture she felt as if that boy was him, and as if he was asking her to tell his story.

This is not just a novel that can introduce young readers to Rousseau and his time but so much more: it's a coming-of-age story and a novel without a reading age. The reader will empathize with the boy, who is so tender and determined at the same time. I hope this novel and Kathleen Vereecken’s other work will reach as many readers as possible in Europe and in the world.'