Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
You can also find me on my blog.
I jumped on the bandwagon and listened to this since it was one of the few historical fiction audiobooks available through my library. While I wasn't as enraptured as the thousands of people who voted it Goodreads best historical fiction book of 2014, it did have some exceptional moments.
What I liked:
The author has written a unique WWII story that manages to stand out among the bazzilion WWII novels in existence. He does not include a single Jewish family hiding from the Nazis, but rather strives to demonstrate that some Germans who happen to have hair as white as snow could still become victims.
Relationships are very well developed. Listening to this novel, I could feel the love between Marie-Laure and her father. Her uncle is slowly brought out of his shell of depression that he has been hiding in since the first world war, and he risks all for her during the German occupation of France.
The German boy, Werner, is written in a way that it would be difficult to not like him, even if he is the perfect example of a young, brilliant Aryan. He is the character who will stick with me from this book. Every time a young boy plays at war on a video game, I will envision the white haired boy who had no choice.
Finally, the author's prose is exemplary. I could smell salt in the air and feel fear as the sound of bombers roared across the water due to Doerr's expert descriptions of landscape, feelings, and atmosphere.
What I didn't like:
The diamond. Intertwined within Marie-Laure and Werner's stories is the fable of a diamond that winds up causing some trouble for the French characters because the German's predictably would like to have it. There is too much drivel about the diamond's supposed past and powers. Definitely not my thing and took away from the moving parts of the story.
The ending. A point that I will not mention would have made a fabulous ending of this book. Unfortunately, it carries on long enough to fizzle out. Making the same mistake as JK Rowling with her "19 Years Later" chapter, this author decides to carry the reader into the future. I guess this is supposed to give us closure and help us be more thankful for what we have, but I didn't think it was worth it. Like the diamond subplot, it simply took away from everything that was wonderful about this book.
Overall, I am glad that I read this book, even if it isn't in my top favorites. Fans of WWII novels and literary fiction will like what Doerr has done here.