"In this novel - as well as through other works, haunted by a similar search - Modiano prevailed as the novelist of the lost childhood paradise. In other novels, he portrayed the effect of such a loss on him, as well as on his only brother who passed away early in life. In the current book, the perspective is expanded to include an entire generation: the generation of his own studying colleagues. He returns to them twenty years later to paint a picture of them in the world of boarding school. He eventually reveals to us what has become of them.
In a bewildering search and with profound compassion, Modiano describes these paths - which are mainly upsetting - and discretely recalls them through a number of characters and explanatory models for his colleagues and professors. Colleagues of various nationalities and origins, sharing the common factor that they are all abandoned. They are all half-forgotten by rich, fake rich, or con artist parents. They were generally shady characters that entrusted their children to the school and then abandoned them. The novelist returns to his colleagues to write about them. He alternates between the memories of the days when they used to study together, portraying their different and similar situations twenty years later. The novelist went in search of those memories, practising objective writing - as usual - and fine ""reportage"" art."