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 12, 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.
©2014 Anthony Doerr (P)2014 Simon & Schuster Audio
What a wonderfully well written story, and a fine narrator. I find it refreshing when the narration is done simply, without changing the voice significantly for different characters. For me, this is much less distracting than a male making his voice light and high for female characters, and vice versa for a woman narrator. What a pleasure this book was, in every way. I will probably listen to it again some day.
I am a young dog who finds literature fascinating. Both my mother and father are English teachers, so being a reader was inevitable.
This novel helps the reader understand what it was like to be trapped in the machinations of World War II. Because the two protagonists are children in 1934, they are not able to escape the coming war. The girl is French, while the boy is German. Each are rendered even more powerless by inescapable circumstances: Marie-Laure is blind, while Werner is an orphan. Doerr plunges the reader into their experience of the war through precisely described vignettes--fragments of their experience that resonate powerfully.
The two characters eventually meet, and these scenes are haunting.
If you are a reader who enjoyed the poetic, humanism of The English Patient or the masterful point-of-view of Code Name Verity or the intense personal quality of All Quiet in the Western Front, you will love this book.
The story is absolutely riveting in itself, but the way the writer parses his words creates a spareness that matches the emotional trauma the two characters stoically endure.
What a beautiful story! One of my favorite authors, Kate Morton, recommended this novel on Facebook, which was good enough reason for me to check it out. I used one of my precious Audible.com credits to purchase the audiobook version narrated by Zach Appelman.
This is one of those books that you just hate to have end, though you know it must. And when you've read those final words on that last page, there's that sense of loss. And the feeling that you don't want to forget these characters, the things they endured, the places they inhabited.
The writing is exquisite; marvelous use of language. The narrative switches back-and-forth in time throughout, and at times I wished it was simply told in a linear progression. I doubt I would have lost interest if the author had opted to simply tell it that way, but these days it seems every-other novel I read is told in this way. So, I'm learned to adapt.
Zach Appelman tells the story with tenderness and a reverence for the characters, for their plight. Very well done.
The only reason I can think that someone would give this beautiful book a poor review is that they're jealous that they didn't write it. Do they not like the narrator? Zach is great, but honestly Kermit the Frog could read it to me and I would still listen. Get this book and tell all your friends. (But, don't tell your friends that you listened to it because then they'll get all self-righteous about how they could never listen because they just love to hold a book in their hands and they'll judge you and they'll correct you in public if you mention that you "read" a book when you really listened to a book.)
Say something about yourself!
As someone who is legally blind, I loved reading how Doer brought to life the world of a young blind girl. That is the thing that initially caught my attention when I heard the NY Times review of this novel.
Oh, I just adore the character of Etienne, the uncle who must decide whether to sink into the PTSD he incurred during The Great War--or whether to help his blind niece during WWII. His character is so intricate, so damaged, and so lovely. I really cherish the relationship he develops with Marie Luare (not sure If I'm spelling that right, because I can't see how the author spells it).
Friendship across enemy lines.
The NY Times made a comment that Anthony Doer could be a literary writer. I already considered him so, and partly listened to this book to prove the Times wrong. Happy to say, I believe fervently that this is a very strong literary foray. I don't know what other category I'd put it in. Very strong story, strong writing, and good characters who develop and learn.
A wonderful story of young people caught in the net of the Nazis in WWII. In this book Anthony Doerr shows the tragedy from both inside the Nazi party, and on the life of a blind young French woman. A classic story about doing the right thing, at the risk of your own life. I loved the book.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
It seems that sometimes the best way to understand how big events impact the world is to get a glimpse of how they impact individual people. That is exactly what happens with this book.
You can read the summary and know the book is set in WWII and two children are involved. I've read plenty about the war, but this book gave me just a little more insight into kids and what they went through at the time. In addition, Marie-Laure's situation is even more unique. I kept thinking throughout the book about people with disabilities and what they do when the world around them goes upside down.
About the narration ... I wasn't impressed at first. As the book went on, I really came to appreciate his style of narration. He doesn't inhabit the characters. He reads the story. In this particular case, it worked for me. I think if he'd used a voice appropriate for a 14-year-old French girl, it would have been very odd. A competent reading is all that was necessary.
This book combines vivid characterization with a gripping plot, is beautifully written and it's a thought provoking novel of ideas, a combination that you don't run into very often these days.
The narrator has a good sense of the material. His natural reading pace is a bit slow for my taste. But, I habitually listen to books at 1.25X -1.5x speed, and it sounded fine at that pace, so that wasn't an issue for me. One of the best books I have listened to for quite a while. Highly recommended!
English major. Love to read
While I have had some good reads this spring, nothing compares to the joy I have experienced in reading this beautifully written book. One of the first things I thought of when I finished it is that I have to start all over again sometime so I can stop thinking about the content and just bask in its exquisite language and imagery.
I have read numerous books about World War II and the ones I have liked will stay in my memory for a long time. I have not listened to one as good as The Book Thief until this book, however - funny how they both center on a child's perspective. From the thoughtful characterization to the masterful unfolding of the plot, this is a book that cries out for you to download it right away.
I must join the ranks of those that disliked this book. Although I finished it, I felt it was a labor rather than a labor of love. The narration moved through different periods of time making it confusing to follow. I felt the descriptions were too flowery and forced. Metaphors ran rampant. Too many dream sequences.
If you enjoyed watching "The English Patient", you'll probably like this book.
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