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
The story of two children, one blind French girl and one smart German boy and how their lives are affected by the second world war. The story is a bit hard to follow on account of how it jumps temporally back and forth and is not chronologically aligned. There is not a very directional or purposeful plot either. Most of the story is focused on shedding a light on how people's lives were affected by the war and what they experienced at that time. The book feels a little longer than it should have been and it feels a little hard to relate to the mental conditions of the time and the people of that age but the performance is good and evokes some thoughtful reflection on the motivations and seemingly random impulses that drive people to do the things they do. A good read overall.
Beautifully written, poignant, heartening. I listened while visiting Normandy for a week. Listening as I stood at the DDay beaches was a powerful experience. It moves first at a slow pace so you can be immersed in the mood and feel of WW II Europe and get used to the names and languages.
Through the eyes of children, one of whom saw with her heart, the other with his immense abilities, the saga unfolds. So beautifully written; such a magnificent performance. How I clung to the words, wishing they would not have to reach an end. Yet the ending occurred, as ever must be, I sighed and I smiled warmly, satisfactorily. This book will remain in my memory.
No. The narrator's voice is annoying and monotonous. His attempts to pronounce foreign words are just silly.
By having someone else narrate read the book.
All the Words I Cannot Bear
The story, while not the most exciting story I've heard/read, was not the main problem.
I didn't read the print book. I loved the narrated version.
It was a complete, satisfying, engaging and enlightening book about people caught up in events before, during and after WW2. People lived, died, suffered and survived.
I loved it. However, I might quibble with some lapses in pronunciation of the occasional French and German words and phrases.. OK, full disclosure… I lived in Paris for 3 years and have also spent a fair amount of time in Germany so I may be a bit fussier about pronunciations than the average listener. Still… I really enjoyed listening and didn't want the story to end.
Werner and Marie Laure, the young star crossed protagonists, buffeted by events and circumstances.
There are many many reviews of this wonderful book available, so no need to add much. I simply loved it. It was a complete, satisfying, engaging and enlightening book about people caught up in events before, during and after WW2. I felt I knew the characters and could feel their emotions.
I just loved it, such well crafted writing. The plot is intriguing, truly surprising and tight as a jigsaw puzzle. The characters are compelling, heart wrenching and memorable. I need to listen again, there is so much there.
Atty/CPA, The South
As with some literary historical fiction, I was skeptical when I started this book. I even went so far as to return it before hearing more and more praise. So I stuck it out for a couple of hours, and, boy oh boy was it worth it! A novel with themes of love and self-sacrifice and humanity in the face of greater evils.
Somerset Maugham said it best in THE RAZOR'S EDGE (another novel centered in France): "... self-sacrifice is a passion so overwhelming that beside it even lust and hunger are trifling. It whirls its victim to destruction in the highest affirmation of his personality. The object doesn't matter; it may be worthwhile or it may be worthless. No wine is so intoxicating, no love so shattering, no vice so compelling. When he sacrifices himself man for a moment is [or believes himself to be] greater than God, for how can God, infinite and omnipotent, sacrifice himself? At best he can only sacrifice his only begotten son."
So, O Fellow Impatient Ones, stay with this for 2 hours, and you will be satisfied once you've finished.
The best book of 2014. Bar none.
The story about the experiences of a German youth and a French girl during World War II whose lives eventually touch is well plottted. The prose is rich and sensuous, and the writer does a fine job describing how the world is experienced by the blind girl. My one criticism of the book is that the narrative jumps around chronologically for no obvious reason, and this is sometimes confusing. The narrative performance is OK, but not outstanding. He tends to read descriptive prose rather as Garrison Keeler reads poetry--in a uniformly lugubrious manner.
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