This book caught me completely off guard. A few months back one of the mums at school had said to me she was reading a book which she thought I would love. It was set in Germany during the second World War (at which point my attention waned) and it is told from the perspective of death (at which point I wondered what this woman thought of me if she thought I would love this book).
But then I kept hearing snippets about it and the premise intrigued me.
It is indeed set in Molching, Germany just outside of Munich and not far from Dachau and the concentration camps and extermination ovens. It is indeed narrated by death but death is not something to fear. It is rather a compassionate and extraordinarily compassionate task master who needs to take each of us off to the inevitable end regardless of how we lived our life.
The story centres on Liesel Meminger, a young girl who lives her young life in these tumultuous times whilst her father brings home a Jew to hide in the basement and her blond haired blue eyed neighbour boy develops a crash on her. She loves to read and steals books to read to herself, to the Jew, to the people hiding in the bomb shelter as the adults around her wreck havoc.
In the end she is all that is left. The Fuhrer is dead, her parents have been killed by the Allied bombing, the neighbour boy is dead. The Jew returns to her and gives her the strength to carry on. She marries and has children, grand children and death comes to take her away.
This is a beautiful and sublime book. I love the characters, each and everyone of them are elegantly depicted. The weaving of the story in and out of inhumane and humour is exquisite.
I highly recommend this book. Pick this up just as soon as you can.
Editor's Note: pages 550