This book seems to be infused throughout with a plaintive sadness. Now that may sound like a bad thing, but it’s not really because you have to admire an author who can evoke a sentiment consistently without making the reader feel totally depressed! It’s a novel about love and loss, childhood and old age. Some aspects of the plot towards the end are slightly convoluted and contrived but I forgave the author because of the quality of the characterisation. I loved both narrative voices so much by the end that I didn’t mind that Krauss was seemingly making me leap through hoops of belief in order that they could eventually meet.
There are elements of magic in the book and a preoccupation with death which is almost inevitable when the two main characters are a Jewish man who escaped from the Nazis, leaving his friends behind and a girl whose father has died. These themes lead inevitably to the book being infused with sadness. Nonetheless, it deals with sadness well, and with grief in a manner that balances sentiment with style.