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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Two Book Reviews for the Price of One!

This book has been on my To Be Read list for a little while. When I saw it  on the shelf at the Priceville Library I snatched it right up!! Several friends had read this book and recommended it highly to me. Mr Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize for the book so I felt it had to be a winner.

I had a hard time with this book. Let me say up front that I know the value of this type of book. If we forget the past, we may be doomed to repeat it.  However the subject matter of All The Light We Cannot See is very dark, as it should be for the story it relates to the reader. I am a pretty "tough" reader...I can take most of what a good author dishes out but this book really got to me. So be warned!!
This novel is set in the early days of World War 2. Marie Laure lives with her father who is the lock keeper at a Paris museum. Her mother has died and Marie Laure is afflicted with cataracts that cause her to be blind at the age of seven. ( As a nurse this was so sad to me...today those cataracts would be removed and she would have her sight!!).  With winds of war in the air, the museum begins to hide many of its treasured pieces including a diamond that has quite a story of doom associated with it! This story line was just an aside to me as I read the book. I was more interested in the people of the story.
Marie Laure's father was very intentional in preparing Marie Laure to be able to be independent in spite of her blindness so he created a miniature replica of Paris for her to become familiar with and to memorize. However that little city is left behind as Marie Laure and her father must leave Paris to go to Saint Malo and live with her father's eccentric uncle, Etienne.  Meanwhile in Germany a brilliant little orphan boy by the name of Werner is being schooled in all the ways of the Reich.  I thought the author did a good job in relating the hold that Hitler had over this country and how he bred viciousness and cruelty in those who served him. While Werner knew that what they were doing was wrong, he felt helpless to do anything about it as a teenager.  Marie Laure's world collides with Werner's when the Germans come to France. We know how the book ends...Hitler is defeated! But one of the most inspiring sub stories in this novel is the old women of France, who in spite of their age felt that they must fight for right.  " To Do Nothing is to Collaborate(with the Germans) says Madame Manec, the housekeeper to Etienne.  I do not want to give too much information or spoilers because I hate when reviewers do that, so read it for yourself! I found I could read it only in small increments of time as it was a deep and dark book.

So what did I read after that sad book? Another sad book! Well this one was not as sad but I must say that I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. If you have read the book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you will find The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy interesting. This novel begins with Queenie receiving the post card from Harold, stating his intention to walk the whole of England to come to her deathbed. She is to hold on until he gets there.  We meet Queenie's fellow patients in the Hospice along with the nuns who are in charge of the facility. And we get to hear Queenie's version of her friendship/love for Harold Fry.   I can honestly say that I wish this author had stopped with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It was the better book. We knew enough about Queenie and sometimes I think it is better to let the reader come to their own conclusions about the characters in a novel.

So now I am re reading The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills. There is much hoopla here in Alabama regarding the release of Harper Lee's "lost" book,  Go Set A Watchman. I have read the reviews and I almost decided to skip this book but I have changed my mind and I will give it a go. I will let you know my opinion when I have turned the last page!!

2 comments:

Terri D said...

I think I will pass on both of those, but I do have Mockingbird on my Kindle. Let us know, please, how you like it. I've not read it yet.

Arlene said...

Terri, I have heard that Atticus does not fare as well in Go Set a Watchman as he did in To Kill a Mockingbird and that has upset many readers but one friend of mine who I value as a reader says Go Set a Watchman is true to the times that we do not like to think about today!! Which made me think it is similar to All the Light We Cannot See. It is hard to read about the cruel things that we KNOW were done.