written and extremely thought-provoking book
where poetry mixes with technical wonders against the tragic background of
in the 1930s and 1940s in France and Germany, the novel follows two
a blind French
whose father, Daniel, works at the Paris museum as a locksmith, and
Werner, a German orphan who, because of his amazing technical
ability, wins a place at the National
Political Institute of Education at Schulpforta. Although Werner is
hoping to be able to develop his technical skills and involve himself
in maths and science, the Institute is in reality a
to be faithful to the Nazi cause.
is occupied and Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo
where they find a temporary safe haven with Marie-Laure's great-uncle. Her
father is eventually captured, Marie-Laure becomes involved in the
resistance, and finally, during
the Allied bombing of Saint-Malo,
she and Werner meet.
Fairy stories, legends and
Jules Verne's wonderful Twenty
Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
are woven into, and around, the atrocities and the waste of war, while the
wonder of technical discovery
and life itself, in all its different representations, are pivotal to the novel.
In short, it
is a story about the doing the right thing when it is difficult to
know just what is right and what is wrong.
comprising more than 500 pages, it is a book that is difficult to put down; each
short chapter spurring the reader to find out what happens next. My
only comment on the negative side would be that there are some words
and expressions, which though completely acceptable in modern-day America, tend
out uncomfortably when uttered by a
sad, thrilling, moving and definitely thought-provoking, it can be
possibly summed up in the words of Werner's sister, Jutta: 'Is it
right to do something only because everyone else is doing it?'