From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
This novel was excellently crafted, in both it’s plot and writing. It was written in two different perspectives and at times a third perspective was also added. Generally speaking, I hate books in different perspectives, though Anthony Doerr was able to perfectly execute these perspectives, achieving their purpose of creating suspense in each chapter. I also liked how each chapter was short, I was not so engrossed in one chapter, that I was then disappointed when the perspective changed, as I had forgotten about the other characters. The descriptive and narrative style of book was and excuse my colloquial language here, was not boring. I find that often authors have complex and detailed descriptions of scenes, that my mind can not see to find interesting and I switch off, and put down the book for at least a month. This was not the case in this book!
I loved Marie-Laure as a character. Having never read a book from the perspective of a blind character, I was at the while sympathetic and proud of Marie-Laure. She was a complex character who’s perspective never ceased to have me questioning what I thought I knew. Werner was by far my favourite character. As a reader and a harry potter fan, I enjoyed reading about the academy Werner was attending and the different injustices that occurred there. It is only after reading the book that I realized both characters had rather unique aspects to them.Werner’s was an expert technician and Marie-Laure was blind. Perhaps this gives way into my only negative comment about the novel, that I simply could not relate to the characters. The challenges they faced, both historical and personal were not challenges that I could sympathize with. However, that does not reduce the value of the novel but perhaps elevates Doerr as an author, being able to create such an intense read about experiences he may not have had himself. I would most definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a bit of a mystery and academy style reads!