All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot SeeWinner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Anthony Doerr writes an enthralling story about love and empathy amidst the terrors of war and extremism. The story revolves around a blind young girl and her devoted father, who creates an exact replica of her town so that she can easily find her way.

The girl, Marie-Laure, had become blind by the age of six. Her father is a locksmith who works at the Museum of Natural History. As his daughter’s sight finally fails, her father builds her a model of Paris, and in this way she is able to navigate around the city. The Jardin des Plantes is their favourite place, and here Marie-Laure orients herself by counting drain covers and trees and streets, memorising routes and recognising the scents of trees and flowers.

In a parallel story, a young boy in Germany, Werner, an orphan, comes to the notice of the Nazis for his astonishing skill at fixing radios, and this leads to his relocation to an elite school aimed at providing skills for the Reich. Little Werner proves his worth and survives, even though the school is brutal and unrelenting.

When the Nazis arrive in Paris and begin to investigate the museum, demanding keys from Marie’s father, he makes plans to move to his uncle’s house in Saint-Malo. Despite her blindness, the girl is able to visualise the layout of the town when her father makes a small and detailed model of it. Months go by. Werner moves closer to the front as the Germans favour experts who can pick up radio transmissions from the allies. Life in Saint-Malo becomes increasingly difficult as the Germans take full control. Marie-Laure’s father is investigated and taken away, ending up in a German camp. Marie-Laure, virtually all alone with her eccentric great uncle now, joins the resistance and carries messages in baguettes. The Guardian

A Train in Winter

Biographer and human rights journalist, Caroline Moorehead writes of the 230 women who worked as Resistance Fighters in France during WWII. Their story is heart wrenching, as they survive the French prison châteaux de la mort lente and then deportation to the female concentration camp of Auschwitz, Birkenau, where many died tortuous deaths, only 49 would survive. Moorehead interviewed many of the surviving women and their families and researched the resistance organization to discover a story both riveting and tragic.

New York Times book review link.A Train in Winter

Summer House with Swimming Pool

Herman Koch, author of The Dinner, continues to intrigue us and challenge us in this multi-layered book. Koch incorporates psychological thriller with a deep look at relationships and inner motivations in this story.

When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he’s not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high profile doctor to the stars, Marc can’t hide from the truth forever.

It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meier’s extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph’s later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer’s tragedy. (source)Z

Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab


For Moving Forward, the Toronto-based novelist Shani Mootoo returns to her native Trinidad to explore the fraught tangle of identities that marginalize people – women and queer-identified, in particular – in certain communities. Relocating to seemingly more tolerant cities, like Toronto, doesn’t change much: these places practice their own forms of social exclusion. This time around, Mootoo commits a white Canadian male protagonist to the messy task of unpacking these ideas – a canny technique in an age when the Donald Sterlings of the world are finally being called out. (Globe & Mail)

The story revolves around Jonathan, a young man raised by two mothers, but one leaves when he is 9 years old. After years of feeling abandoned, he sets off to Trinidad to find Sid, and discovers she has undergone gender reassignment surgery. The setting is wonderful and descriptive and we learn many things about both Jonathan and Sid along the way. It is a satisfying read.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the end of the lane

Author: Neil Gaiman, born in Hampshire, UK, now lives in Minneapolis. He also writes many graphic novels including Black Orchid, Sandman, 1602, Coraline, Creatures of the Night to name a few.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane  is a deceptively simple tale of childhood memories that evolves into mythic proportions. We are left asking, what are memories and how do they shape who we are? It is told with an openness and clarity and we are even reminded in the midst of an intense segment of drama that, he, after all, is only seven years old. An excerpt:

“I’ll apologize,” I told him. “I’ll say sorry. I didn’t mean what I said. She’s not a monster. She’s …she’s pretty.”

He didn’t say anything in response. The bath was full, and he turned the cold tap off.

Then, swiftly, he picked me up. He put his huge hands under my armpits, swung me up with ease, so I felt like I weighed nothing at all. I looked at him, at the intent expression on his face. He had taken off his jacket before he came upstairs. He was wearing a light blue shirt and a maroon paisley tie. He pulled off his watch on its expandable strap, dropped it onto the window ledge.

Then I realized what he was going to do, and I kicked out, and I flailed at him, neither of which actions had any effect of any kind as he plunged me down into the cold water.

I was horrified, but it was initially the horror of something happening against the established order of things. I was fully dressed. That was wrong. I had my sandals on. That was wrong. The bathwater was cold, so cold and so wrong. That was what I thought, initially, as he pushed me into the water, and then he pushed further, pushing my head and shoulders beneath the chilly water, and the horror changed its nature. I though, I’m going to die.