Sometimes I struggle to write a review. Not true this time. All the Light We Cannot See was sent to me by the publisher in two forms - audio and hardback print. It's wonderful. I was mesmerized from the beginning. The plot would seem to circle around the loss of a famous diamond that is cursed and housed in the Museum of Natural History in Paris. It is said that whoever possesses the diamond will live forever but will lose all his friends and family, one by one. So the story begins.
Yet this is a tale of war and of the people it affects. There is a French girl, Marie-Laure, who is blind and lives with her beloved father who works as a locksmith for the museum. There is an orphan boy, Werner, who is entranced with radios and how they work and finds himself recruited into German youth training. There is a self-centered general, Von Rumpel, whose cruelty is matched only by his drive to find the diamond that may save his life. These are key characters, yes, but others add so much depth.
Marie-Laure's uncle and his housekeeper are active in the resistance and risk their lives daily. The reader can't help but experience their fear and courage as they continue to work against German occupation. There is Werner's sister, Jutta, who struggles to survive starvation, rape and war itself and thinking often about her brother. Volkheimer, the gentle giant with a cruel reputation, was a friend to Werner but whose friendship he questions. Will he expose Werner's actions when they do not support the war? And, there is Frederick whose love for birds and independent thought expose him to beatings during training that damage his brain yet leave him living.
Can I write more? Yes, there is the reality of war, hope and survival expressed over and over again. This is a novel to be read, experienced and remembered. I absolutely loved it and can't recommend it enough. I'm overjoyed that the publisher sent it.
This book was an excellent read. I loved the story and the characters are so strong. I admire so much the hardships people in a war country have to endure and how they survived all the terrible things they went thru. It is a super read.
A beautifully detailed story set in occupied France and mostly told through the eyes of a blind girl and a boy with big hopes and dreams (and the brain and skills to achieve them) who is forced to become a Hitler youth. The plot was extremely original for the subject matter, and the characters jumped out of the pages.
What an amazingly simple yet complex story told in two voice that connect the reader and the characters together. This book was smooth and I mean that it does not have a fast paced plot or twists and turns. It continues on as life in that time did. You experience life and as they do, hope for all the best it has to offer. Beautiful writing, wonderful characters and strength. A must read.
The story line was not something that attracted me right away, but once I started, I was so engrossed in the story that I did not have any problems with the time shifts and the chapters alternating between the main characters. I felt transported into WWII and could feel the fatality of war and how innocents are drawn into the web of violence in spite of themselves. You cannot predict the end. I would recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction. A. Doerr is a great story teller.
This was the February 2015 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove.
I must say, I have mixed feelings about this read. On one hand, I thought the writing was very elegant, beautifully poetic and high quality. But on the other hand, the execution of the time shifts seriously choked the pacing of the narrative far too much. The brief glimpse a few years ahead was engaging, but once the narrative shifted into the main backstory, the train almost stopped moving altogether! What's more, the technique wasn't even used for foreshadowing or to create mystery. There seemed to be no real purpose for the time shifts at all.
Werner, a young German boy, and Marie-Laure, a young French girl, both come to life in this WWII period and the author's descriptions of how each discovers all the light they cannot see is definitely worthwhile. The writing has a rich texture to it, and creates a great sense of atmosphere, but in the end, I was disappointed and found myself eager to get to the end.
Overall, would I be willing to read more from this author? Yes, I would. The quality of the writing was impressive enough to overshadow the pacing issue I didn't care for. B-/C+
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure's converge.
Doerr's "stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors" (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer "whose sentences never fail to thrill" (Los Angeles Times).
This was a very beautifully written book and one in which you love to savor every word. I found the beginning to be a tad slow but suddenly the book gets very interesting and you quickly find yourself much engrossed. The story switches back and forth between two different perspectives and comes together towards the end. It's a type of book that stays with you long after you finish reading it. The World War II history has been very well researched and this novel proves that there are many stories from that period that still need to be told. If you haven't read this masterpiece, you need to, as the story will leave you awe-inspired.