Beatrice & Virgil

A Five Star Pick

Beatrice & VirgilSome readers liked it, others hated it—but I was quite blown away by it.  Short, symbolic and meaningful, this second book by Yann Martel was certainly different from The Life of Pi but no less powerful.  Using animals to represent people (a monkey and a donkey to be precise), Martel gives us a different portrayal of the Holocaust.  An unlikely pair (a novelist and a taxidermist) decide to write a play together about how two animals survive a genocide.  At first, you may not know what the whole point of the dialogue taking place between the donkey and monkey is but it is written in such an interesting way, that you just follow their conversation.  The real truth starts revealing itself as you get closer to the end of the short novel.  In fact, I was very shocked with what happens at the conclusion—I couldn’t believe what transpired and by then, I found myself shedding tears.  The questions added in the last pages (which are part of the story), had me crying hysterically and really made me think.  Just the questions alone leave an impact and I found myself actually pondering over them and seeing if I could answer them … I couldn’t.  The book may not have been as poetic as his first, but Martel still hits the nail on the head with his message.  I’d like to know if you agree with me and give it a thumbs up or were disappointed and give it a thumbs down.  If you didn’t like it, I want you to explain why.  Was it because it was not what you expected or because you thought it wasn’t written as well as the first novel?  Maybe it was entirely for a different reason but if you didn’t find yourself feeling troubled or sympathetic after reading the story, I don’t know what to tell you.

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