Tag Archives: Pulitzer Prize Winner

Review: All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See
By Anthony Doerr
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781476746586, May 2014, 531pp.)

The Short of It:

An absorbing story but not as riveting as I had hoped it to be.

The Rest of It:

This story is basically about two people, Marie-Laure,  a blind girl living with her father in France before the German occupation of France and Werner Pfenning, a young German boy, orphaned and living with his sister Jutta in a home for orphaned children.

Marie-Laure’s father is the key holder of the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, which is where a gemstone called the Sea of Flame is kept safe, at least for a time  Much of the story is about this stone and its whereabouts because in order to protect it, fake stones are handed out for safekeeping, the protectors unsure which stone is in fact the real gem.

As Marie-Laure tries to survive in France while her father is away, Werner has been chosen to attend an elite school for the Third Reich. His knack with all things electronic, primarily radios and how they work, make him a coveted asset to the Third Reich.

As you can imagine, the two stories intersect at some point and when they do, you can’t help but be swept up by it all. Marie-Laure is blind but a lover of books; books which are mentioned often in the novel itself. In between the serious bits, are fantastical parts of the story that lessen its blow somewhat, but at the same time, made it slightly unrealistic for me.

It’s not fantasy. I want to be clear about that but Doerr’s delivery lends a fantastical nature to the story. There’s a hidden room behind a wardrobe, a secret grotto, miniature houses,  and to me, it smacked of convenience (a little bit) and took me out of the story a few times.

We read this for book club and everyone enjoyed it, as did I. Maybe the hype of winning the Pulitzer had me thinking it would be a little more than what it was.  Not sure but it fell a little flat for me and I found myself skimming towards the end.

Overall, it was a good read but there were times where I found myself questioning the events that took place and each time that happened, I was pulled out of the story. It read like a screenplay. Very visual, and that part I enjoyed quite a bit. I thought it had been optioned for a movie but surprisingly,  I don’t think that has happened yet.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Goldfinch


The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
By Donna Tartt
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316055437,  October 2013, 784pp.)

The Short of It:

Memory, in and of itself, has the ability to restore and destroy.

The Rest of It:

While visiting a New York art museum, Theodore Decker, thirteen, is separated from his mother in an explosion that leaves him dazed and confused. In the immediate moments after the blast, Theo sees, and takes, a valuable painting for safekeeping. Not fully understanding what has happened or why, he stumbles out of the rubble but his life is forever frozen in time. When he realizes he has lost his dear mother, he finds himself floating through life, encountering many obstacles along the way and revisiting those final moments in the museum over and over again.

This is one hell of a book.

It’s long and I know some readers who won’t even touch it because of its length but they are really doing themselves a disservice because it is really a fine piece of work. I had planned to read it “someday” but when it was chosen for book club, I was pushed encouraged to read it a little bit sooner than I had planned and then it was awarded the Pulitzer which piqued my interest even more.

The Goldfinch  is an adventure. It meanders, there is action but not that much of it and it’s repetitive when it comes to behaviors like the excessive drinking and drug use that riddle its pages. But even with all of this going on, it’s incredibly heartbreaking and yes, beautiful. At first glance, Theo seems to be handling his loss quite well, but with each page, his pain and devastation become more real, more tangible and he becomes more reliant on the actions of others to save him. Not to mention the painting and the significance behind him taking it in the first place. Its purpose, so it seems, is to remind him of that fateful day but as it certainly does just that, it’s also a constant reminder of what he needs to do to keep it safe.

This is a book with some memorable characters too. Boris, the Ukrainian kid Theo hooks up with, is part hoodlum, part philosopher but more than anything, Theo’s best friend. Think “The Artful Dodger”. Popper, a mutt that Theo takes pity on, ends up being a loyal companion to Theo and one cannot forget Hobie, the lovable furniture maker who takes Theo in when he has nowhere else to go. These unlikely characters come together to essentially save Theo from himself, but it’s not always evident that that is what is happening. There are lots of pitfalls along the way and the journey can be tedious, but in the end, I found myself loving the story, wishing I had taken more time with the last few pages. It’s about love and trust and redemption and what’s not to like with its art world setting?

Talking about it here, I realize just how much I miss the characters. So, even though it’s long and intimidating to some, I urge you to pick it up because it’s really a book to experience first-hand.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.