THE GATES OF THE FOREST

A NOVEL

Translated from the French by Francis Frenaye, this is a novel about the face of the Jewish people and the challenge to the face of one Jew—a Hungarian called Gregor. It starts out in Hungary at the onset of World War II. Gregor's parents, eventually slaughtered by the Nazis, have left their seventeen year old son in a cave. There he waits for the war to end and also for the Messiah to come finally and stop the holocaust. He encounters Gavriel in the ave, an ecstatic Jew who gives his life to save the boy's. Gavriel claims he has spoken to Elijah and that Elijah has told him: "The Messiah is not coming. He's not coming because he has already come...the Messiah is everywhere." It is long after the war when Gregor realizes the substance of Gavriel's truth. But he must first witness the horror "that's the purpose of war. It intensifies and underlines everything strange." He becomes involved with it as a resistance worker, masquerades as a deaf mute in acting the role of Judas, and searches in Europe and then in America for Gavriel: "To save the only Jew who has information about the fate of our brothers is an obligation." Gavriel however, is just a surrogate Messiah and to need him, Gregor learns, is in effect to relinquish the faith that he is everywhere: in the defiant laugh of Gavriel, in the song of the Hasidim, and in Auschwitz too. It has all been said before but Mr. Wiesel puts it down as well as anyone.

Pub Date: May 26, 1966

ISBN: 080521044X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1966

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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

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

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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

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