Maurice Swift has excellent writing skills. The problem is that Maurice has no imagination and writes boring stories. Maurice is well aware that he lacks talent with story telling and so he steals other people’s stories. Maurice’s first victim is a celebrated novelist, Erich Ackermann. He meets Erich when he is working as a bartender in a Berlin hotel that Erich is staying at. Maurice ingratiates himself with Erich and takes advantage of the fact that Erich is gay (but in the closet) by leading him on and making him think that Maurice has romantic feelings for him. While they get to know each other, Erich confesses to Maurice about something horrific he did as a young man that no one knows. Maurice turns around and writes a novel using this confession as the arc of a storyline and becomes a bestselling novelist. Subsequently, when Maurice writes novels using his own storylines, the books are inevitably flops so he just keeps stealing other people’s stories but he does it in such horrible, conniving ways.
Earlier this year, I read my first John Boyne book, The Heart’s Invisible Furies which I loved. While the two books have very different storylines, the story in A Ladder to the Sky is just as compelling. I very much enjoyed this book and will continue reading John’s backlist.