De Moor is rapidly becoming one of the world’s finest novelists.


A troubled union of two artistic temperaments feels “the powerful effects of music on our emotions,” in an elegant short novel from the internationally acclaimed Dutch author (Duke of Egypt, 2002, etc.).

De Moor’s story is a subtly elusive composition centered in two meetings, ten years apart, between the unnamed narrator, an earnest musicologist, and Marius van Vlooten, an unusually self-reliant blind music critic. They first meet when stranded together at an Amsterdam airport while awaiting a delayed flight to Bordeaux, where both are to attend a master class for string quartets. Van Vlooten reveals the cause of his blindness (a botched suicide attempt, over a failed love affair). The narrator introduces the critic to beautiful young violinist Suzanna Flier. As he later learns, the two fall in love and wed, but endure a tempestuous marriage marred by her casual (possibly adulterous?) relations with colleagues and his seething jealousy—in a manner echoing the plot of Tolstoy’s mordant novella The Kreutzer Sonata (inspired by a Beethoven chamber work and itself the source of Leos Janacek’s 1927 string quartet, which Suzanna performs, brilliantly). The details of “this spiral of passion and fate” emerge when the two men cross paths a decade later, as each is en route to the Salzburg Music Festival. The story is then concluded “sixteen years later” as the narrator—alone this time aboard an airplane—reads a newspaper account of the incident that ended the tortured “sonata” played (as it were) by Suzanna and Marius. It’s a deliciously conceived and executed mystery, seasoned with acute perceptions of how both music and life are seen, heard, and imperfectly experienced and understood by whatever senses humans command. And it’s a strikingly ingenious homage to the great originals (and copies) of Beethoven, Tolstoy, and Janacek.

De Moor is rapidly becoming one of the world’s finest novelists.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-55970-744-5

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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