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As I began this short novel I thought, what is this? No real plot, some very intriguing descriptions about a flipbook and a pear, and two authors both named Henry, both writing about the same subject. Before beginning Beatrice and Virgil I knew it was a work of fiction about the holocaust and I was interested to see how the holocaust was going to emerge out of a story about a donkey and a howler monkey. Emerge it did! Full of symbolism and allegoric meanings. This book can be interpreted in so many ways that no two people will read it and reap the same understanding from its words. There are so many phrases that stuck with me. In regards to the elaborate description of a pear, he says "time eats everything" and phrases like, "he's a howler monkey in a world that does not like howler monkeys". Once the generations affected by the holocaust die off, will anyone remember the horror? I think Martel's ultimate goal was to keep the holocaust alive, to keep people talking about it, to keep it off the back burner where it is forgotten. Even critical discussion is still discussion, and Martel is taking that risk. As Beatrice says to Virgil "How are we going to talk about what happened to us?" Virgil answers, "That's if we survive."
You will either hate or love this book. You may find it boring or enveloping. You may be offended or think it's brilliant. I fall into the latter group. At times, especially towards the end, it is very graphic, dark and hard to get through, but hey, we are discussing the holocaust! This small book packs a huge punch that will stay with me for a long time. Whether you like Beatrice and Virgil or not, it's worth a shot, if only to discover its affect on you.
As for the narrator Mark Bramhall, bravo! He did a wonderful job at depicting all the characters, he brought them to life.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
as with 'life of Pi', beatrice & virgil is a story that opens like a stunning flower. it kept me hooked till the end and left me feeling a bit blasted- an intense story, worth every minute.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful