Book Talk: Stories that resonate

Sometimes a story leaps off the page and resonates far after it is read, even years later.

Sometimes a story leaps off the page and resonates far after it is read, even years later.

The three following novels all share this trait in common.

All the Light We Cannot See (2014) by Anthony Doerr is a story of grace and beauty that illuminates the ways, against all odds, people strive to be good to one another.

This Pulitzer prize-winning work is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose fates intersect in occupied France in connection with the radio – a means of resistance for the Allies and just one more avenue of annihilation for the Nazis.

It is a magnificent novel that deftly interweaves the lives of Marie-Laurie and Werner as they endure crushing losses and struggle to survive with dignity amid the devastation and cruelty of the Second World War.

The Baron in the Trees (1959) by Italo Calvino is an enchanting tale about a young 18th-century Italian nobleman who chooses to scamper into an oak on his family’s Ligurian estate to escape his culinary sister’s meal of snails and refuses to come down. Ever.

Instead, the stubborn Baron Cosimo Piovasco di Rondo pledges allegiance to an arboreal existence and manages to lead a surprisingly full and satisfying life in his domain, flanked by his mostly loyal dachshund Emilio Battista.

Always on the watch, the eccentric, girl-chasing baron witnesses the ebb and flow of Freemasons, Jacobins, Jesuits, the French Revolution, as well as the collapse of the Republic of Genoa, Napoleon’s visitations, Cossack hordes and the dawn of hot air balloons.

The Baron in the Trees is ironically the author’s most grounded work, a life-and-times story akin to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

Cosimo does not renounce his species but he lives a life of growth unencumbered by the surface fickleness of the world below.

The Luminaries (2013) by Eleanor Catton is a dazzling novel of lust, love, murder and greed set in the heady days of New Zealand’s Gold Rush in 1886.

Three unsolved crimes – the disappearance of the town’s wealthiest man, the discovery of an enormous fortune in gold in the home of a luckless drunk and a prostitute’s attempt to end her life – link the fates and fortunes of 12 men.

The tale begins when Walter Moody, the central figure in a story with more than 20 intertwined characters, lands in a gold-mining frontier town on the west coast of New Zealand to make his fortune and forever leave behind a family scandal back in Scotland.

Moody stumbles upon a tense clandestine gathering of 12 local men who are secretly investigating the three crimes. But nothing is quite what it seems in this gripping page-turner, as an intricate network of alliances and betrayals and lies is laid bare.

Peter Critchley is a reference librarian at the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library. All novels in his column are available at your Okanagan Regional Library, www.orl.bc.ca.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File)
Overwhelming support for Vernon businesses this holiday season: Chamber

Vernon chamber urges shoppers to keep dollars local amid pandemic with #voteVernon campaign

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Another death linked to COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon care home

It’s the sixth death at Noric House related to the virus to date

Design rendering for the proposed Coldstream Community Centre. An advisory committee will make a decision on the latest site plan Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Sahuri & Associates rendering)
Coldstream committee to review latest designs for new community centre

Design renderings have been released for the centre that would add 84 local child care spaces

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read