The Storyteller is a book that combines baking, war and vampires all in one without it being even slightly weird.
“Sage Singer is a baker, a loner, until she befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses—and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die because he had been a Nazi SS guard. And Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.”
This was a really fantastic read that I kind of forgot about until I went back over my book journal today. It’s one of those war novels that isn’t really a war novel – it deals with the themes of war retrospectively. I felt that it dealt with some very serious themes in a very tactful way. The main one being war crimes. There are a few different parts of the narrative, a story within a story as well as some jumping around in terms of the timeline, but all these parts come together to make one amazing story.
The main character, Sage, is from a line of bakers. Her family feature in all parts of the timeline and there is always bread. This book is absolutely packed with delicious descriptions of bread dough. It will make you want to eat some freshly baked bread, and maybe even bake some! I was practically drooling. It’s such an art form and I love that I now can secretly pretend I know some of the secrets to baking bread.
I honestly really enjoyed The Storyteller and I just kept coming back for more all the time! All of the elements and characters are so cleverly portrayed and the pace kept me totally hooked in. I especially love the story within the story and how that becomes the common thread that weaves it all together. I might just be a sucker for a bit of meta fiction but seriously, it’s clever. It also fits the theme of the power of literature or words to give humans hope in difficult times such as war. There seem to be a few of those, particularly for World War Two (The Book Thief, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, All the Light We Cannot See??). It’d be a cool thematic study to do with a class.
I know I always seem to comment on religion in books, but obviously it must be something I am overly aware of! I thought The Storyteller had an interesting take on religion with Christian, Catholic, Jewish AND agnostic perspectives covered. I like it when religion can be explored with no agenda like that, with no particular faith being promoted or criticized. It’s also interesting how each character’s worldview shapes the way they react to different situations. There are some tricky issues with war crimes and redemption and forgiveness that the characters in this book are facing.
Just writing this makes me want to read the book again. It wasn’t too predictable, it was intellectually engaging and it was superbly written. I hope someone reads this review and decides to go pick up a copy because I highly recommend it!
5/5 stars from me
Blurb taken from http://www.jodipicoult.com/the-storyteller.html