Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Storyteller book review

I have just finished Jodi Picoult's new novel and if you are a regular follower, you will know I am a huge fan of Jodi.  The Storyteller is another fantastic read that delves into a fascinating and emotive subject, this time, the Holocaust. 

Sage Singer is a baker who hides from the world because of a car crash that left her face scarred and ultimately, killed her mother.  She has pushed both her sisters away because she thinks they blame her for the death of their mother and has embarked on an affair with a married man, believing that this is the only kind of love she deserves. 

At her grief group she befriends an old man, Josef Weber, who confesses to her that he is a Nazi and that he wants her to forgive him for his crimes and be the instrument of his mercy killing.  She is an atheist, but her grandmother Minka is a Jewish survivor and Sage takes the decision to report Josef to the authorities. 

Leo Stein works in the office of Human Rights and Special Prosecutions at the Justice Department and he helps Sage get Josef to reveal his real name, Reiner Hartmann, so they can get the wheels in motion to prosecute him for his crimes.  With her help, he builds an excellent case against him and enlists Sage's grandmother hoping her memory can help prove his guilt.

The story is written in Jodi's usual style of many perspectives (Sage, Josef, Minka and Leo), but also adds the vampire story that Minka was writing, which proved integral to her survival and mirrors the themes that run in the novel.  The Minka sections are particularly realistic (tissues anyone?) and give voice to the no doubt many hours of research that Jodi will have done on the Holocaust, but at no point does it feel like this.  You are transported there to that harrowing time through the memories of her character.

It took me longer than it usually does to get into this novel and I think this is because Sage is 'the other woman,' so I did not take to her character, but once Josef's past begins to be revealed and Minka's story began, I was pulled in irrevocably.

I did guess the twist quite early on however, but I think this says more about me (I am a writer - I guess most twists, whether it be in books, movies or tv and am particularly impressed if I don't see it coming - and have read all Jodi's books, so am atuned to her style ) than the plot.

I can highly recommend this book for both its moral complexity and unputdownability (this word should be in the dicionary and a picture of Jodi placed next to it) and although House Rules, and particularly its main character Jacob Hunt, remains my favourite Jodi Picoult novel, this makes my top three.


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Having seen Jodi during her book tour for Sing You Home at Cleckheaton Town Hall in 2011, she revealed that Jacob Hunt is one of her favourite characters too and that she is not finished with him yet.  Jodi has brought many of her characters back, so fingers crossed that Jacob will get another full novel about his story soon. 

I now begin my wait for her next novel and here's hoping that it will feature Jacob.

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