This book was frustrating to me. The two books I've read previously by Joanne Harris captivated and mesmerized me and yet this one didn't exactly do that. For the first one hundred pages or so I kept glancing at the page number and letting out a long sigh thinking "Oh my God... I've only make it that far?"
Well, that was my feeling for the majority of the book. The story itself finally gets exciting around the very end but I still truly was not interested in it. The book was a slow read and spoke of a lot of nonsense that I didn't really care about. At the end of the book I thought, if she had just gotten right to the point and told the good stuff this book would've been great!
The concept surrounds a group of children and their relations to a German soldier during WWII. If you are a mere child, a silly child, and you don't exactly live in a town driven by news of 'the war', would it make you an evil person if you befriended the soldiers? You're simply a child and you don't know any better.
I feel like history has made the German soldiers of that time equal to the devil and I think what they did in no way was wrong... but they were people. This book and others like The Reader, Summer of my German Soldier, and others kind of make these German soldiers have a conscious and brings life into them rather then they remaining these frightening devil creatures. And it's a hard idea. It's hard for me at least... I catch myself liking the character and feeling bad for their struggles then I recall that they're Nazi's and I feel guilty for any feelings. I'm German by heritage and have faced prejudice for that. As a child I had a school teacher who used to yell at me and the other German students in the class saying how we were all evil for what the people in our heritage had done. For many years as a child I was ashamed I was German and therefore many mentions of Nazi Germany only reminds me of the rude comments and glares I received as a child- of the hurt I felt. So to write a Nazi character that you can actually like, in itself, is a really tricky idea to be brought up and I do applaud any author willing to go there and not sound like a Nazi sympathizer. I think it's a hard thing to do without crossing that line.
However, this book really did bore me otherwise. I feel that the narrators voice was so bitter and annoying the entire time. Who wants a narrator you cannot exactly like? Or a narrator that you cannot just hate? You need one of the two extremes and not something that's in the middle. I really did not like the narrator so I think that dimmed my like for the book.
I ended up reading the first half of the book and skimming the rest, desperate to see if it got any better and desperate to come to a close with it. Disappointment is really the best word I can use to describe this book. Hopping from her books like Chocolat with it's almost magical quality to this was a let down.
While I've given the two other books I've read high marks... I can only give this book two stars.