Synaesthesia Magazine Green - Page 48


I admit, I’m always wary of any author attempting a fictional piece revolving around the horrors of the holocaust, and this feeling remained throughout the novel, regardless of the fact that Picoult is one of my favourite writers. But it would appear that Picoult has thoroughly done her research to make sure the events in her book are detailed and accurate.

The Storyteller follows Sage Singer, a young baker in modern-day New England, trying to hide from her own reflection and past. Whilst attending a grief counselling group, she meets a retired widower, Josef Weber, who she quickly forms a friendship with. It soon transpires that he was an SS officer responsible for thousands of deaths, and as their friendship evolves, so too does her need to delve into the darker aspects of her own past. As is common in any Picoult novel, forgiveness, morality and ethical questions are raised throughout the narrative; is it possible to forgive someone when it was not you they hurt, but your ancestors? Can anyone really change? If someone is evil for killing, does that make you evil for killing them?

Whilst most of the characters let down an otherwise strong narrative (somehow they don’t hold the amount of depth that is expected from a Picoult offering) Sage’s grandmother, Minka, brings home the most brutal parts of the story, particularly when she recounts the horrors of the concentration camps. Minka’s description of her life before and during the war are painfully descriptive and in some instances hard to read, and in comparison to the present day scenes, the authenticity springs off the page. Throughout The Storyteller is the sprinkling of a different story, which is revealed to have been written by her grandmother before and during the war, but it was distracting and does nothing to increase your emotional attachment to the characters, as it often felt that as you were getting into the story, it would pull you out again. Unlike Picoult’s The Tenth Circle, which executed comic book illustrations alongside narrative with deft precision.

Unfortunately, The Storyteller seemed to lack consistent logic. It

felt like too much of a

coincidence that an SS

guard (Josef) could end

up in the same town as

one of the holocaust

survivors. Despite the

ending justifying this, it

was hard to get over

thinking that it was

unlikely, which distanced

me as a reader and slightly spoilt the book for me.

Make no mistake, this is no light-hearted read. It takes you on a journey through one of the darkest parts of history and through some of the most harrowing events of the Second World War. Picoult is famed for not shying away from topics that can make for a fascinating (albeit uncomfortable) read, and this book sticks to that form. It may take a while to get into the story, but it is worth persevering with.

The Storyteller

Jodi Picoult

Published by Hodder & Stoughton, 2012

Review: Amy-Louu Ceaplen

For those who love: Sophie Hannah, Dorothy Koomson

Amy-Louu Ceaplen is an insurance representative by day, and an English and Creative Writing graduate, who occasionally puts pen to paper, by night.