Although the plot occasionally takes banal turns, character voices, as rendered by Dollenmayer’s unassuming translation,...


An octogenarian reflects ruefully on his beloved daughter’s death and wonders if he could have prevented it, in German media magnate DuMont’s debut novel.

Albert, a self-described “old man,” is battling Parkinsonian tremors and weakness. He and his wife Ann live a quiet existence in a suburb of an unnamed German city. Sporadically cheered by his successful though somewhat obtuse son Anton, and three grandchildren, Albert is still mostly mired in grief over his daughter Gloria’s drowning death in the Caribbean two years before. Gloria had gone scuba diving with her diving-instructor lover and her best friend Christie and swam away from them into the depths—her body was never recovered. Christie, a young doctor just returned from her humanitarian work in Africa, is bent on reviewing the incident with Albert. Since Ann has departed for the bedside of her dying sister, Albert is free to go with Christie on a road trip to her adoptive mother Lena’s country cottage. There, Christie reads to the elders from her journal. Albert is forced to relive Gloria’s worsening depression, which began in adolescence and resisted all psychiatric intervention including hospitalization. Lena must confront her own dark memories: a puritanical husband and her struggles to adopt Christie over his objections. Just when widowhood promised freedom, Christie’s grifter birth parents surfaced with blackmail threats, and teenage Christie deserted her mother for Albert and Ann’s more stable-appearing home. Although up to now only superficially acquainted, Albert and Lena, thrust together, manage to prove that sparks can still fly at their age. Meanwhile, the death of Ann’s younger sister, who never married and lived only for glamour and grand passion, has taught Ann the meaning of existing in the moment. Will Albert recover from his grief, especially since a guilty secret is bound up in it? 

Although the plot occasionally takes banal turns, character voices, as rendered by Dollenmayer’s unassuming translation, lend meditative gravitas to the melodrama.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-64798-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner


Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet