The book is set in Germany and France just prior to, and during World War 2. In Germany there is the character of Werner, a young boy orphaned with his sister in a mining community whose mathematical and technical skills bring him to the attention of senior government officials who arrange for him to be taught at an elite educational facility – a training academy for the Nazi’s.
In Paris and later Saint-Malo there is Marie-Laure, an intelligent, curious bookworm blind from the age of six living with her father, a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. Once Paris is invaded Marie-Laure and her father are forced to leave and take sanctuary with an uncle in the town of Saint-Malo.
Both of the main characters are portrayed sublimely – there is depth and heart to each of their stories. Doerr moves the story back and forth from the childhoods of both characters to war time France and the lead up to the D Day landing of the Allied forces. This technique builds suspense beautifully and allows the two stories to develop and build in collaboration – bringing two seemingly opposite sides together.
This books was magic – sad, as most wartime stories inevitably are – but written so beautifully. There are many aspects to the story which I am sure I have not really taken in but the feeling of wanting to hear and know more at the end has certainly stayed with me since I finished the book.
What was the last book you read that had a real impact on you and stayed with you long after you had finished reading?