The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson is divided into three separate novellas that do not seem to be connected too closely for most of the book. The first novella begins with an award winning garden designer traveling to a small island off the coast of France to restore a historical garden. Once she arrives on the island she meets a whole host of mysterious characters and the reader starts to realize that things are not quite what they seem.
The second and third novella transport the reader back to World War II. I enjoyed these two novellas much more than the first one. Each of the novellas was a short and interesting story but none of them really grabbed me and pulled me into the book. Towards the end of the third novella the author connects all three stories together. While it makes for a beautiful overall story, it began to feel very rushed at towards the end of the book. The last fifty pages it felt as if the author was trying to just hurry and wrap the book up. I think I would have enjoyed this book a bit more if the author had flushed the ending out a bit more.
Overall, I rated this book three stars. It was not my favorite book but it was well written and an interesting story.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr tells the story of two teenagers during World War II. Marie-Laure is sixteen and blind. She lives in Paris with her father. Werner is sixteen and an orphan. He lives in Germany where he is forced into service early. His mechanical talent with radio equipment makes him a valuable commodity to the Germans. Marie-Laure and Werner’s paths will cross briefly in one of the most endearing ways.
When I started this book, I did not know much about the story. I was aware that a main character was blind and that the story would take place during World War II. After just a few chapters, I was already falling in love with the characters. Doerr writes beautifully and weaves delicate themes throughout this narrative. His descriptions often made me feel as if I was in France smelling the salty sea air with Marie-Laure. For me, Doerr’s writing made this one of those books that I desperately did not want to end but at the same time I couldn’t put it down.
While this book is lengthy, each chapter is very short, often only a page or two. I think this is evidence of the author’s background as a short story writer. If you are hesitant to start this novel because of its size, I encourage you to try it anyway. The short chapters break it into more manageable pieces and this truly is a book that you don’t want to miss out on.
Overall, I gave this book five stars. I enjoyed the narrative and the beautiful language in this story. Even though things did not always end as well as I would have liked, I found myself involved in the story and rooting for the characters.