By Anthony Doer
Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.
Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.
At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.
Our readers very much enjoyed this book. Some are highly recommending this book to others for a “good read.”
The reader follows two storylines in this book. One set in Germany with an orphan boy, Werner Pfennig, the other set in France with a young blind girl, Marie-Laure. Their stories are told in parallel from very different childhoods in 1934 to their eventual meeting in 1944.
Some readers did find the style of writing difficult to adjust to, jumping from timeframes and countries then back. These readers did not become as attached to the story and abandoned the book but most found they adjusted to this style of writing once the characters were established.
This style was described by one reader as “laying layer upon layer of information” steadily throughout the story.
There were many emotionally attaching characters throughout this novel, both French and German. The struggles for some young German boys and girls with a world that was rapidly evolving around them, a world they had no control over and were powerless against. One reader described this well as “a clash of the individual on the machine around them.”
The group felt that the two main characters, and many of the supporting characters, were beautifully written. Their individual life situations were very emotionally moving and thought provoking. This was achieved so well by the beautiful prose by the author.
Along with the stories of Marie-Laure and Walter there is a third dramatic suspenseful mystery story line following their paths. This story itself is also intriguing.
There was much discussion about World War 2 and how so much of this war was waged through the airwaves. Beginning with Nazi propaganda, their use of radio station and programme control in the brainwashing of the German people, particularly German youth. This was so engagingly written in the life of Werner and his sister in the German orphanage just before the war. The story then follows the use of radios by partisans in invaded countries bravely attempting to alert the allies to German troop and munitions movements.
Readers also commented on how they enjoyed the resolution of events after the war and how well it was managed by the author.
A highly recommended read.
Read by MJ Readers