Not QUITE unputdownable, but pretty close!
It's been a while since I've been captured in the world of a book whilst "getting on with real life"
The book is a fictional story based in WWII following the stories of a French girl, Marie-Laure, being raised by her widdower father; and an orphan German boy, Werner, growing up with his younger sister Jutta, and many other orphans under the care of a French house mother, Frau Elena.
Marie-Laurie spends her days exploring and learning from professors in the museum where her father is the locksmith and master of keys. Despite losing her eyesight at age 6, she is able to use her other senses to perceive the world in colours of a different kind.
Rumours abound of a cursed diamond, that has made its way through the rise and fall of nations and kingdoms, being stored at the museum. And when the invasion begins, it is with a precious stone that Marie-Laure and her father leave Paris on foot, walking past gridlocked traffic, a standstill caused by the occupants of the city fleeing invasion. Marie-Laure is unaware of the stone her father carries, and he, not knowing whether it is the cursed diamond or one of 3 copies, anguishes over the risk they will be under the curse.
The safe house arranged for them is deserted and being looted when they arrive, forcing them to press on to the seaside village his father grew up in, to the family home still occupied by his uncle, Etienne. A man haunted by ghosts of The Great War, Etienne has not left the house in decades, his radio collection allows him to be in touch with the world.
Werner, being an orphan, will be forced into work in the coal mine as soon as he turns 15. The very place his father died. He and Jutta spend their days exploring, scavenging for extra food for the orphanage, finding odds and ends that have been discarded, and Werner's bright mind sees the patterns, asks questions, invents. He wants to be an engineer, an inventor... He fixes a found radio, then improves it, and before he knows it he is renowned as the radio repairman for the village. It is through this that he is tested and taken in to a excellent school, not knowing at the time of acceptance that he was being trained for war.
As you can probably tell, this book has made an impression upon me. I will not spoil any more. It is a great read. 530 pages, excellently written. I highly recommend it.