Friday, November 15, 2013

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Hardback: 446 pages
GenreContemporary Fiction
Publisher:  Hodder and Stoughton 2013

Source:  Tywyn Library, Wales.
First Sentences: My father trusted me with the details of his death. 'Ania,' he would say, no whiskey at my funeral. I want the finest blackberry wine. No weeping, mind you. Just dancing.

Favourite Quote:  “I don't know what it is about death that makes it so hard. I suppose it's the one-sided communication; the fact that we never get to ask our loved one if she suffered, if she is happy wherever she is now...if she is somewhere. It's the question mark that comes with death that we can't face, not the period.” 
Review Quote: If you think you know Jodi Picoult, her latest novel will make you think again . . . a powerful and unexpected climax (Good Housekeeping 2013-03-19)
My Opinion It is not an easy read but if you can stomach the horror tales of the Holcaust it is well worth doing so.

I have not read a Jodi Picoult for a couple of years as I had previously felt they were becoming rather formulaic. 'The Storyteller' proves me to be wrong as this is very different, a harrowing story that will stay with you a long time after you turn the last page.   It is disturbing to say the least to read the first person descriptions of horrific happenings in the Nazi concentration camps of the Second World War.  This novel has definitely put Jodi Picoult back on my list of authors to read as she manages to combine the realism of the war, betrayal and horrendous murders with love, mercy and forgiveness. It is not an easy read but if you can stomach the horror tales of the Holcaust it is well worth doing so.

The female protagonist Sage Singer is a reclusive young woman with a past that has driven her to retreat into sleeping by day and working by night. Sage attends a therapy group and it is here that she befriends Josef Weber a retired teacher and much respected member of the local community. One day he shocks her by asking her for help as he wants to die! It does not end with her refusal but gets very complicated when he reveals to her the terrible secret that he has lived with for sixty years . Has his past evil behaviour been atoned or should he still be brought to justice. The story tells of Sage's dilemma should she be offering forgiveness or not, her feelings are complicated by the fact that these abominable acts may well have involved a family member. With all her illusions shattered about this man she thought was her friend, Sage looks into her family history to try and answer her questions about the situation she has found herself in. The horrors of war, that she learns about haunt her as she tries to decide just what she should do.

In conclusion I feel this novel gives readers a fresh insight into a much written about topic although it is of course very harrowing and upsetting at times it is written in a sensitive way.

BBC Interview with Jodi Picoult about 'The Storyteller' which is very interesting and added to my enjoyment of the novel.

Author Profile

Jodi Lynn Picoult was born on May 16th 1966 and grew up in Nesconset, Long Island, New York, USA and she now lives in Hanover, New Hampshire with her husband Tim Van Leer and their three children Sammy, Kyle and Jake. She grew up with a love of writing and her first story, at age 5 was "The Lobster Which Misunderstood." She studied writing at Princeton University, graduating in 1987, and had two short stories published by Seventeen magazine while still studying. After graduation a series of miscellaneous jobs followed from editing textbooks at a publishing company to teaching English classes. She later attended Harvard University to earn her master's degree in education.
Her long list of published novels are all strongly connected to human emotional issues and complex relationships. In 2003 she was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction and currently there are over fourteen million of her books in print worldwide.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing. 

Goodreads - Author Profile  Jodi Picoult - Official Website  BBC Interview - Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult - Facebook     Bibliography of Books - Wikipedia

Linking up today with Literary Friday


  1. Now that sounds a bit dark. I can get over "dark" if there is an uplifting ending. Gosh, this author doesn't live that far from me. About an hour as the crow flies. I had to visit you way over in Wales to find this out!

    1. Isn't it great when we learn such facts thanks to the karma of blogging. :)

  2. Can you believe I've never read on of her books? I enjoyed watching the interview. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have interviewed so many Holocaust survivors.

    Since this is a popular topic in literature, I'm intrigued that she's written it with a fresh insight.

    Did you ever read The Book Thief? I loved it, and I want to see the movie.

    Thanks for linking-up!


    1. I was surprised you have not read any of them! I have indeed read The Book Thief and here is the link to my review for you Ricki.

  3. Hi Linda. You always write such great reviews. Isn't that strange, as I had read quite a few of her books, and felt just the same as you. However, I will now have to add this to my To Be Read List. Oh dear! The list is just getting longer and longer, and I'm reading as fast as I can! I have put your button badge onto my blog, but I'm not sure the link is there :(

    1. Thanks Diane, sorry to keep adding to your TBR list, I know the feeling, I have shelves of books to read in the house, yet still pick up more from the library!! I am not technical so have no idea about the button badge, I need to learn again how to do them. :(

  4. I always thought she had it in her to write a truly great book and it sounds like she's accomplished that. I will read this one based on your review, even though it sounds very dark. I liked her book about a school shooting, also a dark subject, called Nineteen Minutes.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation for 'Nineteen Minutes' which is on my to read bookshelf but I still have not chosen to read it!

  5. Sounds like an interesting read. Like you, I had stopped reading Picoul's books but perhaps I ought to give this one a try.

    1. If you can cope with the subject it is worth reading.

  6. I have this on my tbr, thanks for a great review, I need to bump it up again.



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