Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZEFrom 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.- Goodreads
Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Collins UK for my copy of this novel.
First off, I have to let you know that this book is incredible, it is definitely one of the best books I have ever read, and I just know it's going to stay as one of my favourites for a very long time!
This novel is about a blind French girl and a German orphan during World War II, and the way their lives change during the course of the war. The plot is full of details about geography and language, but also military details, which is a credit to the amount of research the author must have done before and during writing.
This novel is told through split narratives, from Werner, the German orphan, from Marie-Laure the French girl, and from an ill Nazi Officer. This split narrative worked well, we got to know these characters very well, and I felt very involved in their stories. The plot is also not told chronologically either, which adds to the way we come to understand the story and the characters featured, and also adds some tension to the story as we don't know how the situations characters find themselves in are going to end until we read the next section in the timeline. This allows the plot to be suspenseful in places, and although I feel that the novel does read quite slowly, it never lost my attention or interest, and the slow pacing allowed me to savour every single second of the novel!
The author is a beautiful writer, the prose is elegant and haunting, and the author's descriptions, especially of Marie-Laure's experiences and what she senses of the world are some of the most sensory and well-described I have ever read.
This novel has a great mix of characters too, my favourite would probably be Marie-Laure, her narrative voice is wonderful, and she had strength and bravery to rival most heroines. I also appreciated her attitude to life and her blindness, she struggled at times, but she fought on, and she never gave up, and I really appreciated that. Her relationships with other characters in the novel were important to her character, and they also added to her story, and the plot of the novel overall. Her father and Etienne were two very important characters to her, and they were influential in how she coped during the war. Their love and care for Marie-Laure was heart warming especially in the desolate situation and cruel acts being committed around them during WWII. The other main character in the novel is Werner, a German orphan who is interested in radios, and becomes very prolific in building and fixing them. Werner showed a different side of what happened to people caught up in WWII, and I liked the contrast between him and Marie-Laure, not just in terms of nationality, but in terms of what happened to them. Also the way the author managed to intertwine the storylines and the characters was a marvellous feat of writing which made the whole book into a rich tapestry depicting the Second World War for these particular characters.
Overall I gave this novel 5/5 stars, and I will definitely be recommending it to absolutely everyone as I think its a novel that deserves all the praise and critical acclaim it gets!