I’m so indebted to Jodi Picoult for writing this beautiful book. The past couple of books I’ve read have been so bad that I’d gotten into a real blue funk. Nothing was looking right; I couldn’t finish a particularly sub-standard book and it was really dragging me down. Then along comes ‘The Storyteller’ by Jodi Picoult to save me . Actually I should also thank my husband for borrowing it from the library for me ! The last book of Jodi Picoult that I read was ‘House Rules’, which didn’t impress me, so I kept aside this one too for some time. However, once I read the first page, I was hooked. It’s one of those books which is utterly compelling and impossible to put down once you start reading. I’m partial to books that incorporate baking or cooking in the story and this one scored on that level too.
Sage Singer, a non-practicing Jew, works in a bakery and she’s fabulous at her job. She’s been scarred both physically and mentally by certain incidents in her life. So like a wounded creature, she prefers to stay away from people and has immersed herself in her work. Sage bakes the most divine bread, cakes and cookies by night and sleeps during the day. The placidity of her life is disturbed by the arrival of old Mr. Josef Weber. Gradually over many cups of coffee and a few games of chess, Sage finds herself drawn inexplicably to this old gentleman. She feels like she has found a true friend at last.
However,when Mr. Weber asks Sage for a favour one day, her world is completely shaken.Josef has been the custodian of a terrible secret for 60 years and he seeks redemption through Sage. It marks the beginning of her journey to seek the true story, a journey which takes her to the appalling Nazi era. A journey which brings Leo Stein,who works in the division that prosecutes war criminals, into her life. It’s a search which unexpectedly touches her grandmother’s life, who herself is a Holocaust survivor.Amidst horrific revelations, crumbling relationships and new friends, Sage must navigate her way to the truth. The end has got a twist in it which left me wide eyed and gasping !
The Holocaust is one of the most written about topics, yet Jodi’s style is so refreshing that it doesn’t feel even the slight bit monotonous. She has touched so skilfully on the subject that it’s really praiseworthy. The stories of Sage in the present and her grandmother in the past are interwoven beautifully and takes the story forward seamlessly. Sage has to make some tough choices in order to bring closure to the dilemma she faces. In the words of the author,” Can murder ever be justice? Or Mercy ?”
The story and the characters have taken residence in my heart. Some of the characters are quirky and very interesting. The owner of the bakery, Mary was a nun at one point in her life. Her bakery’s named ‘Our Daily Bread’ and she runs it more like a community centre. Rocco,the barista working there, does not have too much prominence in the story yet he’s one of my favourites, solely because of his unusual habit of speaking only in Haiku ! Here’s one of his gems. “Lennon was brilliant / If he were alive today / Can you Imagine ?”
I loved Jodi’s style of narrating from the point of view of different characters . It adds a certain flavour to the story and keeps the reader thoroughly engaged from start to finish. This is a book which makes us take a break from our daily routine and think . It also makes us look inwards into our convictions and how strong they are.I didn’t want the story to end I still carry Sage around within me. The Story Teller is a must read and it will capture you with it’s poignancy and beauty.