Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives in Paris with her father, David, who has whittled a scale model of their neighborhood. Marie-Laure studied it with her hands before she ventured out–because she went blind as a young girl. Werner, an orphan, figured out how to revamp a radio to make it work so he and his sister Jutta could listen to newscasts and stories–especially one from France. World War II rages on as Major von Rumpel works to find the Sea of Flames, a diamond known not just for its healing qualities, but for the curse that follows the owner.
A number of colleagues and friends recommended this to me, and I was thrilled to get the email saying my name was up on the reserved list at the library. The short chapters make this a fast read and it is easy to feel for the various characters and storylines. Marie’s Uncle Etienne and his housekeeper Madam Manec were especially endearing with their rebellion and their resilience. Doerr’s writing contains precision and artistry. I found myself marking numerous passages just for the beauty of the language, although I noted many for the content as well.
Some of my favorite passages:
- “How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?”
- “You must never stop believing. That’s the most important thing.”
- “The appetite for oxygen is such that objects heavier than housecats are dragged into the flames. Shop signs swing toward the heat from their brackets; a potted hedge comes sliding across the rubble and capsizes.”
- “Silence is the fruit of the occupation…It is as if the city has become a library of books in an unknown language, the houses great shelves of illegible volumes, the lamps all extinguished.”
- Marie-Laure follows Madame Manec: “following the odors of her stews and cakes; in such moments Madame seems like a great moving wall of rosebushes, thorny and fragrant and cracking with bees.”