read by Zach Appelman
I can see why this book won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. It is superb.
Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a 12-year-old blind French girl living in Paris when the German occupation of World War II begins in 1940. Her widowed father is a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, which supposedly has a priceless but cursed diamond. They flee to the walled city of Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast (it is pictured on the book cover) and the home of her great uncle Etienne, a radio enthusiast (he has eleven sets). Marie-Laure doesn't know that her father is carrying either the diamond or one of three exact replicas, to keep it out of German hands.
Werner Pfennig is a 14-year-old German boy living with his younger sister Jutta in an orphanage in the coal-mining town of Zollverein. He has an aptitude for science, especially radios, and when he fixes one for a German commander, he is sent to an elite (but brutal) military school where he learns to track Resistance radio broadcasts. Werner begins to question what he's doing.
Their path cross four years later, in August 1944, during the Allied bombing of Saint-Malo. Anthony Doerr also has interesting storylines for a number of minor characters, that reach their climaxes just before, during, and long after this period.
Listening to this book in audiobook format is especially appropriate. Because of Marie-Laure's blindness, Doerr is very detailed in his descriptions, and I could really "see" the settings, especially Saint-Malo. Actor Zach Appelman does an outstanding job with the reading.
© Amanda Pape - 2015
[The audiobook was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]