Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2015), Audie Award for Fiction (2015), ALA Alex Award (2015), Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction (Runner-Up) (2015), Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction (2015) …more
The story revolves around a blind French girl and a German boy who eventually meet towards the end of WW2 in occupied France. The father and his blind daughter flee Paris for the safety of a city by the sea, until he is taken away by the Nazis, never to see his daughter again. She lives on in the old building with her grandfather, until the town comes under attack. The German boy, drafted into the Nazi army, hears the girl broadcasting a reading of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, followed by Clair de Lune. He is changed by this and led to the girl.
I enjoyed reading this book. Set during the Second World War in France/ Germany it is easy to read, using simple but emotive words to build the story. It is rather different from the usual WW2 books, giving us another view of the Nazis and the French civilians. Because the protagonist is blind, we get to “see” things through her senses rather than the usual vision we take for granted.
There has been some confusion by readers about the ending of the book, what did it mean, where did the diamond go to, what was the intention of Werner. It is possible this is the fault of the reader for not paying attention, or of the construction of the novel, or as some would say, it was meant to be vague.
I prefer things to be fairly obvious, so I am not going to blame myself (the reader)!
It might even have been a bit clearer if we didn’t have the time shifting that occurred in different sections. I have never been a fan of flashbacks .
And my last criticism would be that the ending could have been cut shorter and neater. It might have been better if it ended with Werner’s death, rather than going right up to the present day.
But these criticism distract from what is a great novel, well worth reading. The chapters are really short probably average about 1.5 pages. This is pretty unusual, but I really liked this aspect. It also made it easier to tell myself, well … let’s just read one more chapter, okay that was so short, maybe another one …