This book follows two story lines. The narrator’s story is in real-time, while Marianne’s takes place in Germany during the fourteenth century. The two stories weave together in a way that feels natural. These two are accompanied by Marianne’s other stories of love that she tells the narrator by his bedside in the burn ward. Davidson is a master at connecting the stories together in a truly poetic and moving way. Each chapter held something new to discover and that is a quality that will definitely keep a reader’s attention throughout the entire book. This simple detail is enough to make me squeal with excitement (because there’s nothing like a book you can’t put down), but the wonderful thing is, that’s not all! There are so many more things about this book that left me delightfully impressed.
I was very taken by the information in this book, from scientific information on burns and healing burns to the history behind Dante’s Inferno. The amount of research that must have gone into this book is just incredible. It’s something I could never do. I wouldn’t have the patience for it. I’m so glad Davidson did take the time to do it, though. It made this book seem more authentic to me. He knew what he was talking about because he spent the time to gather all the information necessary to write a story like this. It makes me want to read more by him, but obviously he would have to write something else first. If it takes as long as this book, I’ll be waiting for quite a while but it will be worth it.
It’s pretty safe to say that the main theme of this book is “love.” I’ll admit I’m putting it a bit simple by saying that. There are certainly more things you can get out of it, but it all comes down to love. The narrator’s character is able to develop through love. Without the love of Marianne Engel, his life would have gone nowhere. His love for her grants her the freedom she’s been seeking for hundreds of years. The message of love is meant to inspire hope, not only in the narrator, but also the reader. Another theme one could take from the book is faith. I don’t necessarily mean religious faith, but any kind of faith. Perhaps faith in life, faith in another individual, faith in yourself, or faith in (you guessed it) love.
As far as character’s go, I’ve never seen character development quite like this. I’m used to a slow progression of a character that is hardly noticeable. The narrator’s development is one that changes him totally into the kind of person that is worthy of Marianne’s love and devotion.
This book contains graphic descriptions of burns and burn treatment, sexual content, drug abuse, explicit profanity, and violence.