Just a Little Too Poetic for This Reader’s Taste

The book opens with Jakob Beer as a seven-year-old child hiding in the bog in order to escape the Nazis. His family did not escape and were killed. Jakob was found by Athos Roussos, who smuggled him out of Poland and brought young Jakob to live with him in Greece. After the war, they immigrated to Canada. Jakob later becomes a poet and translator. The story is told by Ben, who discovered Jakob’s diaries, a man whose parents are Holocaust survivors.

This is primarily a story about memory, love, and loss. Anne Michaels is an accomplished poet, which is really demonstrated in this, her first novel. Every sentence is carefully crafted poetry. Her descriptions have great depth and make the reader see the great beauty and great horror.
This book is not a fast read. I found myself having to stop and ponder a lot. This was both negative and positive for me. I am not a huge fan of poetry, so in that sense this book was too lyrical for me. However, by being forced to stop and ponder I found some wonderful pearls.
I saw the movie version, which is what prompted me to read this book. The movie was a gem and I loved it. Sometimes it takes an overly lyrical novel to make a great film. It is very rare that I like the film version better than a book, but this is one of those cases.
I’m glad I read the book. I got to explore the characters more deeply. Now I want to see the movie again.


Note: If you have also reviewed this book, please feel free to post you link in the comments. I will then add it to the end of my review.
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