(Robert Johnston) John de St Jorre has had the life most little boys would dream of – recruited as a spy at Oxford, then a war correspondent and author.
But unlike most little boys, his mother mysteriously disappeared when he was four years old, a fact that was never spoken about by his family.
Through alternating chapters, we meet Werner, an 8-year old German orphan with a gift for engineering and Marie-Laure, a six-year-old blind French girl, who lives with her doting father.
Over 500 glorious pages, Doerr meticulously charts the course of their lives as their paths inevitably cross.
The story – an embroidery of James Baldwin’s own experience as an adolescent minister – sees the protagonist struggle with his city, church and sexuality.
It’s a work that continues to surprise for its passion and prescience, as vital now as its publication in 1953.
The result is powerfully life-affirming and gripping.