Anthony Doerr 2014 4th Estate Books
Two people, Marie – Laure and Werner Pfennig, one French and one German have very different but equally traumatic experiences of this horrendous period in history. Told in the most part in alternating chapters in the 3rd person narrative, Marie – Laure, a French National and Werner a young intelligent German who accesses a way out of poverty via a prestigious Nazi School due to his aptitude for Science and Engineering, struggle through the war on a converging pathway as their destinies determine. Both protagonists are children as the war commences and their respective stories unfold, enabling a sympathetic story of people experiencing the war, without focusing on which side they are on. Supporting characters have moving stories which add depth and flavour to this book.
The strength in this story is the sensitive telling of the story in an unbiased and balanced way. The author captures the impact of the war as it progressed. Clearly I wasn’t there but as much as is possible I felt I did gain insight from reading this book, another perspective, the children of war including the Nazi Youth and in the case of Werner those with a moral compass that recognised the wrongs but were powerless to escape or change their path.
Sad and heartwarming in equal parts, detailing the brutality as well as the strength and humanity, the positive relationships formed in the darkest of times make this a warm and moving read enshrined in sadness and loss. An engaging read with a strong human story at its heart told in the context of war. Deserving of its ratified status.
A hugely popular book that elicited a massive response when I posted the picture below on my instagram account.
Historical fiction is not usually a genre I gravitate towards but recent reads, this book, Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven, books aimed at a younger audience but wonderful to read together, The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas, Michael Morpurgo’s numerous stories set in this time period always impress me and move me, while educating academically and emotionally. What more could one ask for in a book, really?