Thursday, December 24, 2009


Pages: 424
Date: 24/12/2009
Grade: 4.5

This was John Boyne's first novel, and its a very well written debut, definitely an indication of what was to come; numerous good novels.
This is the story of Matthieu Zela, as told by himself in 1999, over 250 years after he was born in Paris.
In 1758 the teenager Matthieu Zela flees Paris with his young half brother Tomas, after having witnessed his stepfather's execution for murdering Matthieu's mother.
On the boat to England Matthieu meets Dominique, who will be his first love, the cause of several difficult situation and the first of several doomed affairs.
Before the 18th Century ends, Matthieu discovers that he has stopped aging, and so he becomes a witness to history. He is present for the French Revolution, the Wall Street crash, and McCarthy-ism to name just a few events. And through all that time he's keeping an eye on a succession of nephews, all called Tomas or a variation on that name, and all dying at an early age, living only long enough to produce their successor.
Now, with Matthieu about to enter his fourth century, Matthieu tells his story as he resolves that this time he'll safe his nephew from an early grave.
This was a fascinating story, very imaginative and with lots of interesting tidbits without turning into a history lesson.
And I really liked the ending, which seemed to point a change in Matthieu's fortunes, but left it up to the reader to decide if that's actually the case.

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