Brimful with love, nature, energy, and intellect: history proved on the pulse and expressed through the heart. A treasure.

LICHTENBERG AND THE LITTLE FLOWER GIRL

Hoffman died in 1993, and his last novel (following The Film Explainer, published here in 1996), translated again by his own son, is a quietly powerful masterpiece of human charm that manages to capture the very essence of the Enlightenment in Germany.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was a real person (1742–99), and here he lives all over again as a fictionalized presence—small, short, hunchbacked, eccentric, and utterly charming, a professor in Göttingen, ever-curious intellectually, well known among the international community of thinkers and scholars—and yearning for a private life of passion, fulfillment, and affection. How could a squat and ugly little hunchback ever hope for such? Well, how could it ever come about that a pretty girl of 13, Maria Dorothea Stechard, a flower-seller on the street, should move into his house and live there with him, alone, for a number of years? It hardly matters how, but that it did happen matters greatly: and readers will be intrigued indeed at the way the two live together, preternaturally shy at first, then bit by bit coming to terms with each other, and, finally, falling into love and fulfillment in a way wholly captivating in its charm and utterly lacking in any prurience whatsoever. The end that comes to this exquisite love will bring a tear to the reader’s eye, but not before much else of genuine interest takes place—lectures to students; correspondence with and sometimes visits from scientific greats of the era (“He was in contact with Bernoulli, Delalande, Maskelyne, Messier, Cassini, with Mallet in Geneva and Rumowski in St. Petersburg,” not to mention Volta, Lessing, and Blumenbach); the seriocomedy of death (“Because he had passed on, Erxleben had stopped coughing”); the wonder of teaching Maria Stechard how to read; and Lichtenberg’s endless jotting of notes large and small on the nature of life.

Brimful with love, nature, energy, and intellect: history proved on the pulse and expressed through the heart. A treasure.

Pub Date: May 26, 2004

ISBN: 0-8112-1568-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

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

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

A wild child’s isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder.

“The Marsh Girl,” “swamp trash”—Catherine “Kya” Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband’s beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya’s fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl’s collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya’s coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man’s body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, “star quarterback and town hot shot,” who was once Kya’s lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel’s weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymath—a published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1909-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more