This novel was so much than the above states The idiosyncrasies of each individual character are so well defined and expressed in such ways that come across the page almost lyrically I was invited into the pages and could not only imagine the atmosphere, but all of my senses were collectively enticed from the very first page until the last.
I was so amazed with the way that the author was able to heighten all my senses in a way that I felt like I knew what it was like to be blind In most well written books you get of a sense of what the characters look like and follow them throughout the book almost as if you are on a voyage, but with this novel, I could imagine what it was like to be in Marie Laure s shoes The descriptives were so beautifully intricate that I could imagine the atmosphere through touch and sound It was amazing, really.
There were so many different aspects of the book that are lived out in separate moments and in different countries that find a way to unite in the end What impressed me most was that I could have never predicted the outcome It was as though all cliches were off the table and real life was set in motion Life outside of books can be very messy and the author stayed true to life but in a magical and symbolic way.
I have said in other reviews that just when I think that I have read my last book centered around the Second World War, another seems to pop up I should emphasize that this book created an image of war in a way that I have never imagined before I truly got a sense of what it must have been like for children who lived a happy life and then suddenly were on curfew and barely had food to eat It also showed the side of young children who are basically brainwashed by Nazi leaders and made into animals who seem to make choices that they normally wouldn t in order to survive And by survive, I mean dodging severe abuse by their own colleagues This book may haunt me for some time I can t express enough how beautifully written the pages are I highly recommend this read as it is my favorite so far for 2014 I received this book through NetGalley I m sure this is going to mark me as a literary dud, but for all the brilliant reviews of this book I couldn t really get into it.
The book revolves around Marie Laure, a blind girl who lives with her father Her father is the locksmith at the Paris Museum of Natural History, and Marie is raised wholly in the museum and at home Marie has a semi idyllic childhood until the Nazi s invade Paris and she and her father have to flee to another city, where a reclusive uncle lives Unknown to Marie, her father is smuggling the world s most priceless jewel out of the city on behalf of the museum Unfortunately for them, a German soldier is hot on the trail of the jewel, and will go to extreme lengths to find it.
Werner is a German orphan who teaches himself everything to do with radios after repairing a senior ranking German officer s radio, he is given entry into a youth academy that trains young soldiers for Hitler s Army He is then drafted to utilize his skills to find resistance armies who are using the radio but Werner is no soldier and soon realizes the cost of his talent.
I found the book somewhat plodding like you were waiting for something important to happenand waiting, and waiting, and waiting Eventually Marie and Werner s stories collide but only briefly and completely unsatisfactorily I m sure that s the point that life is hardly satisfactory, but still Parts of the book were very interesting the last third probably kept my attention best This wasn t a book that you can t put down though very little tension at least for me.
An Alternate Cover For This ISBN Can Be Found HereFrom The Highly Acclaimed, Multiple Award Winning Anthony Doerr, The Stunningly Beautiful 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 IIMarie Laure Lives In Paris Near The Museum Of Natural History, Where Her Father Works 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 JewelIn A Mining Town In Germany, Werner Pfennig, An Orphan, Grows Up With His Younger Sister, Enchanted By A Crude Radio They Find That Brings Them News And Stories From Places They Have Never Seen Or Imagined Werner Becomes An Expert At Building And Fixing These Crucial New Instruments And Is Enlisted To Use His Talent To Track Down The Resistance Deftly Interweaving The Lives Of Marie Laure And Werner, Doerr Illuminates The Ways, Against All Odds, People Try To Be Good To One Another Adult fictionThis book is getting a lot of well deserved attention for its unique story and its beautiful writing It starts late in World War II, as the Allies begin shelling the French city of Saint Malo to drive out the remaining Nazi troops Our two main characters are Marie Laure, a blind French girl who fled here with her uncle from Paris, and Werner, a radio expert in the German army who is stuck in the city when the attack begins We jump back and forth in time, and between the two characters perspectives to see how both young people were brought to this place.
If you like straight ahead, linear, plot driven war novels, this is not the book for you It does have a central plot that brings the two characters together a mystery about a possibly magic gem hunted by an evil, terminally ill Nazi officer but that is almost beside the point In fact it feels like something added after the fact, as if an editor said, You know, what you need is That plot, and the way it resolves, strongly echoes the mystery in the movie Titanic.
What kept me turning pages, rather, were the characters lives and the short, well crafted scenes Doerr s writing is elegant and evocative Reading it is like eating the best gelato so decadent you are sure you ll put on weight He treats Marie Laure and Werner with equal empathy, and their interaction when they finally meet is not your stereotypical wartime love story It is much better, much bittersweet and haunting.
It took me about fifty pages to really get into the book and figure out the structure, but once I did, I couldn t stop.
This is a carefully constructed book which is bound to captivate a large audience and become very popular, and be blessed with many warm reviews it was chosen by Goodreads members as the best historical fiction of 2014, and shortlisted for the National Book Award There are multiple reasons for its success but they are also the same reasons as to why I didn t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.
Anthony Doerr s All the Light We Cannot See follows the parallel lives of two protagonists Marie Laure, a French girl and daughter of a master locksmith at the Natural History Museum in Paris the other character is Werner Pfenning, a German boy growing up in the mining town of Zollverein Their lives are drawn against the brewing conflict, which will soon engulf not only France and Germany, but most of the world the second World War.
Both Marie and Werner are sympathetic character for whom the reader can root for the author has made sure of that Marie Laure goes literally blind in the first or second chapter, and spends the beginning of the book becoming used to her new condition mostly the help of her father, who designs elaborate puzzles for her to solve Werner grows up in an industrial town hit by the depression, amidst the rise of the brownshirts his only real companion is his sister, Jutta, and his only solace the radio which Werner knows how to operate and fix instinctively, and to which they both listen at night.
The Nazis eventually come to power and invade France, forcing Marie Laure and her father to flee to the northern coastal town of Saint Malo, an ancient walled city which provides picturesque setting for much of the book In Germany, Werner s skill with the radio catches the eye of a Nazi official who sends him to the breeding ground for Nazi youth, where he will be trained to become a member of the military and eventually sent to the front At the same time, a much older Nazi official searches all over France for an almost mythical diamond all over France, and is dedicated to finding it Doerr s chapters are short and readable, and often contain pleasant nuggets of prose which was obviously carefully thought out To maintain suspense, he switches both between perspectives and time periods various parts of the book are set in different years, mostly non chronologically, and are comprised of chapters alternating between different characters The trouble with the book is that it s not very compelling, surprising, or illuminating With Doerr s outline for the story three characters, three different viewpoints we know that their stories will eventually collide, but when they finally do it happens in a quick, unsatisfying way Doerr s characters lack moral complexity which would make them properly engaging Marie Laure spends most of the book in hiding, which is understandable, but which also stops her from being forced to make important moral and ethical choices regarding her own survival Werner is even troubling while he is troubled by brutality he witnesses at the Nazi school, he seems resigned to it Werner neither openly embraces Nazism, nor condemns it he s indifferent to the whole experience and role he plays It s as if Doerr never gave Werner the opportunity to grow up, choosing instead to preserve the young boy, fascinated by radio which goes contrary to what boys and children in general experience in any war, which instantly strips them of their childhoods forever The subplot featuring Von Rumpel, the old Nazi who searches for the mystical diamond seems to be attached to the rest of the book for no reason except to move the plot forward there s no complexity to his character at all, and develops exactly as expected.
This is a book which looks as if it was designed to be read by younger readers it s colorful setting, short chapters, switching points of narration will satisfy those with short attention spans, who require their story to be told quickly, engagingly, and not too demanding I think all swearwords used in the book can be counted on the fingers of one hand its language is very mellow and mild on obscenities For a novel set during World War 2, it is a surprisingly tame book murder and death cannot be escaped, but is downplayed as much as possible One horrible instance of violence which could have very well changed a character s perception on things occurs essentially off screen, lowering possible impact it could have had on said character This is World War 2, PG 13 All the Light We Cannot See is a carefully crafted and constructed book, which for me remains its greatest flaw I could never stop seeing the author s own hand behind the scenes, which made characters act out events in certain way, obviously planned well ahead It s a fantasy world populated with unreal people, who engage in a fantasy war and is bound to appeal to hundreds of readers, because this is what they want and appreciate Popular for one season or two, but unlikely to be remembered in a decade or.
Why write a review if I am such an atypical reader I will keep this brief since I feel most readers will not react as I have, but isn t it important that all views are voiced All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book confusing I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the story In this book they do not improve the story Perhaps jumping from one scene to another can increase suspense, but must one also flip back and forth in time In addition, and books are made for audios, and this is not helpful when you cannot flip back to see where you are Finally, time switches unnecessarily lengthen the novel.
Secondly, be aware when you choose this book that the book is not only about WW2 but also a diamond that some of the characters, quite a few in fact, believe has magical powers Those who possess the stone will not die, but people around that person will come to misfortune This is all stated in one of the very first chapters it is not a spoiler This aspect of the book turns the story into a mystery novel Where is the gem Who has it The result is that you have a heavy dose of fantasy woven into a book of historical fiction I have trouble with both fantasy and mystery novels Maybe you love them I would have preferred that the diamond was woven into the story as one of the objects stolen by the Nazis Let s look at how the book portrays WW2 It is set primarily in Brittany, France, and Germany and a little bit in Russia and Vienna Its primary focus is about what warfare does to people, not the leaders, but normal people I liked that you saw into the heads and felt the emotions of both Germans and French Some of the Germans are evil but you also come to understand how living in those times shaped you To stand up against the Nazi regime was almost impossible There are some who try These events are gripping You also get the feel of life in Brittany versus Paris They are not the same I enjoyed the feel of the air, the wind in my face and the salty tang on my lips in St Malo I do wonder to what extent my appreciation of Brittany as a place is due to my own time there or the author s writing Am I remembering my own experiences, or am I seeing it from the words of the author I am unsure about this.
In any case, I was very disturbed by the blend of fantasy with gripping WW2 events The events of WW2 are those portrayed in every book If you have read about WW2 in numerous other books of fiction or non fiction you will not get much new Rape by Russians felt like the author had to include this simply so it could be to be togged off his checklist I do think the book moves the reader on an emotional level You get terribly angry and shocked, and this is achieved through the author s writing, his excellent prose.
And this is what saves the book its prose The descriptions of things and places, the particular grip of a hand, movement of a body and what characters say Very good writing Beautiful writing Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you feel that wind on your skin or the touch of a shell against your fingertips or smile at the oh so recognizable words of a child Children often see far than adults, but they also talk in a clear, simple manner What they say is to the point could that diamond be thrown away Of course not As remarked by one of the French children, Who is going to chuck into the Seine a stone worth several Eiffel Towers Even if the gem has dangerous powers People love reading about kids and one of them here is blind Who wouldn t be moved by such The narration by Zach Appelman didn t add much, but neither did it terribly detract from the story I appreciated how he read some lines with a beat, a rhythm which matched the cadence of the author s words Pauses were well placed French pronunciation was lacking Oh my, once I got going I told you what I felt I believe this book will be popular, and many will like it, but it was just OK for me.
4 20 15 PULITZER WINNER for 2014The brain is locked in total darkness of course, children, says the voice It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light It brims with color and movement So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of lightMarie Laure LeBlanc is a teen who had gone blind at age 6 She and her father, Daniel, fled Paris ahead of the German invasion, arriving in the ancient walled port city of Saint Malo in northwest France to stay with M L s great uncle, Etienne His PTSD from WW I had kept him indoors for two decades They bring with them a large and infamous diamond, to save it from the Nazis Daniel had made a scale model of their neighborhood in Paris to help young Marie Laure learn her away around, and repeats the project in Saint Malo, which is eventually occupied by the German army Werner and Jutta Pfennig are raised in a German orphanage after their father is killed in the local mine Werner has a gift for electronics, and is sent to a special school where, despite the many horrors of the experience, his talent is nurtured He develops technology for locating radio sources, and is rushed into the Wehrmacht to apply his skill in the war His assignment brings him to Saint Malo, where his path and Marie Laure s intersect Anthony Doerr There are three primary time streams here, 1944 as the Allies are assaulting the German held town, 1940 44, as we follow the progress of Werner and Marie Laure to their intersection, and the 1930s We see the boy and the girl as children, and are presented with mirrored events in their young lives that will define in large measure the years to follow Werner and Jutta are mesmerized by a French radio broadcast, a respite from the anti Semitic propaganda the government is broadcasting The Professor in the French broadcast offers lectures on science, and inspires Werner to dream of a life beyond the orphanage Open your eyes, concluded the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever,and then a piano comes on, playing a lonely song that sounds to Werner like a golden boat traveling a dark river, a progression of harmonies that transfigures Zollverein the houses turned to mist, the mines filled in, the smokestacks fallen, an ancient sea spilling through the streets, and the air streaming with possibility As her father is the head locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, Marie Laure has the run of the place She spends a lot of time with a professor there, learning everything she can about shells, mollusks and snails Dr Geffard teaches her the names of shells Lambis lambis, Cypraea moneta, Lophiotoma acuta and lets her feel the spines and apertures and whorls of each in turn He explains the branches of marine evolution and the sequences of the geologic periods on her best days, she glimpses the limitless span of millennia behind her millions of years, tens of millions of years Both Werner and Marie Laure are enriched by teachers and books as they grow No nuclear families here Marie Laure s mother died in childbirth The Pfennig children lost their remaining parent when father was killed in the mine The author, in a video on his site, talks about the three pieces of inspiration that provided the superstructure for the novel While 80 feet below ground in a NYC subway, a fellow passenger was griping about the loss of cell service Doerr appreciates the beautiful miracle that is modern communicationsAt the start of the book I wanted to try to capture the magic of hearing the voice of a stranger in a little device in your home because for the history of humanity, that was a strange thing I started with a boy trapped somewhere and a girl reading a story.
A year later he was on a book tour in France and saw Saint Malo for the first time Walking around this beautiful seaside town, a walled fortress, the beautiful channel, the green water of the channel breaking against the walls and I told my editor, look how old this is This medieval town s so pretty He said, actually, this town was almost entirely destroyed in 1944, by your country, by American bombs So I started researching a lot about the city of Saint Malo immediately and knew that was the setting That was where the boy would be trapped, listening to the radio.
The third piece arrived when Doerr learned that when the Germans invaded, the French hid not only their artistic treasures but their important natural history and gemological holdings as well.
The story is told primarily in alternating Marie Laure s and Werner s experiences But there is a third stream as well, that of Sgt Major Reinhold von Rumpel, a gem appraiser drafted by the Reich to examine the jewels captured by the military and collect the best for a special collection He becomes obsessed with finding the Sea of Flames, the near mythic diamond Daniel LeBlanc had hidden away He is pretty much the prototypical evil Nazi, completely corrupt, greedy, cruel, as close to a stick figure characterization as there is in the book But his evil doing provides the danger needed to move the story forward There may not be words sufficient to exclaim just how magnificent an accomplishment this book is Amazing, spectacular, incredible, moving, engaging, emotional, gripping, celestial, soulful, and bloody fracking brilliant might give some indication There is so much going on here One can read it for the story alone and come away satisfied But there is such amazing craft on display that the book rewards a closer reading In addition to a deft application of mirroring in the experiences of Werner and Marie Laure, Doerr brings a poet s sense of imagery and magic Marie Laure s sense of the world is filled with shell, snail, and mollusk experiences and references Some are simple During a time of intense stress, she must live like the snails, moment to moment, centimeter to centimeter.
In a moment of hopeful reflection,these tiny wet beings straining calcium from the water and spinning it into polished dreams on their backs it is enough More than enough.
You will find many scattered about like you know what on a beach I knew early on that I wanted her to be interested in shells I m standing here at the ocean right now I ve always been so interested in both the visual beauty of mollusks and the tactile feel of them As a kid, I collected them all the time That really imbued both The Shell Collector and Marie with, Why does the natural world bother to be so beautiful For me, that s really embodied in seashells I knew early on that I wanted her to find a path to pursue her interest in shells I think that fits I hope that fits with visual impairment, using your fingers to identify them and admire them from the Powell s reviewWerner s snowy white hair alone might stand in for the entirety of the visible spectrum although it is described as a color that is the absence of color The dreaded prospect of being forced to work in the mines in a literally coal black environment, the very antithesis of light, offers motivation for Werner to find another path, and coal itself offers a balance for that other form of carbon that drives Marie Laure s father out of Paris, the one that embodies light While black and white are often used in describing Werner s environment, the broader spectrum figures large in his descriptions Werner liked to crouch in his dormer and imagine radio waves like mile long harp strings, bending and vibrating over Zollverein, flying through forests, through cities, through walls At midnight he and Jutta prowl the ionosphere, searching for that lavish, penetrating voice When they find it, Werner feels as if he has been launched into a different existence, a secret place where great discoveries are possible, where an orphan from a coal town can solve some vital mystery hidden in the physical world A nice additional touch is Marie Laure s reading of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea It permeates the tale as her reading echoes events and tensions in the real world of the story Also avian imagery is a frequent, soulful presence A particularly moving moment is when a damaged character is reminded of a long lost friend or maybe a long remembered fear by the presence of a particular bird associated with that friend and the time when they knew each other.
There are substantive issues addressed in this National Book Award finalist Moral choices must be made about how to respond when darkness seeks to extinguish the light There are powerful instances in which different characters withdraw into their shells in response to evil, but others in which they rage against the night with their actions Thoughtful characters question the morality of their actions, as dark siders plunge into the moral abyss Sometimes the plunge is steep and immediate, but for others it is made clear that innocence can be corrupted, bit by bit The major characters, and a few of the secondary ones, are very well drawn You will most definitely care what happens to them.
As for gripes, few and far between There is a tendency at times to tell rather than show Marie Laure may be too good That s about it There are sure to be some who find this story too emotional I am not among them.
Just as Werner perceives or imagines he perceives an invisible world of radiowaves, All the Light We Cannot See enriches the reader with a spectrum of imagery, of meaning, of feeling You may need eyes to read the page, ears to hear if listening to an audio version, or sensitive, educated fingers to read a Braille volume please tell me this book has been published in Braille , but the waves with which Doerr has constructed his masterwork will permeate your reading experience They may not be entirely apparent to your senses the first time you read this book They are there Whether you see, hear or touch them, or miss them entirely, they are there, and they will fill you All the Light We Cannot See is a dazzling novel When you read it, you will see EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, and FB pagesDefinitely check out Doerr s site And if you are wondering what he had in mind, specifically, with the title It s a reference first and foremost to all the light we literally cannot see that is, the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that are beyond the ability of human eyes to detect radio waves, of course, being the most relevant It s also a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see Ultimately, the title is intended as a suggestion that we spend too much time focused on only a small slice of the spectrum of possibility from Doerr s siteInterview by Jill Owens for Powell sTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea for free on Project GutenbergHere s the wiki page for Saint MaloAn interesting article on the damage done to Saint Malo in the 1944 battleA page on the surrender of Saint Malo, from the site World War II Today World War II Today Here is a link to a nice, large panoramic shot of modern Saint Malo, far too wide to include here4 20 15 Pulitzer prize winners were announced today, and All the Light shines brightest for fiction6 27 15 All the Light We Cannot See is awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in FictionNovember 2018 All the Light is among the semi finalists for GR s Best of the Best Award Honestly, wtf I mean, we all know the blind person trope Daredevil, etc and the lovable Nazi trope Hiroshima Mon Amour and the mystical object searched for by evil Nazis trope Indiana Jones , so why throw all of these together The book was readable but no so than a pulp fiction thriller Honestly, I don t see this as being Pulitzer quality The characters were ok, the narration interesting, but a masterpiece The best US fiction in 2015 Perhaps not And please don t accuse me of being too harsh All Quiet on the Western Front, Winds of War, and The Sympathizer are all better war stories than this one Might as well give Bob Dylan a Nobel for Literature while you are at itoh damn, they did Still not happy with this one Sorry, but I just cannot appreciate it.
So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light I m going to be honest love for this book didn t hit me straight away In fact, my first attempt to read it last year ended with me putting it aside and going to find something easier, lighter and less descriptive to read I know meh, what a quitter.
But this book is built on beautiful imagery Both in the literal sense the physical world of 1940s Paris Germany and the metaphorical It s woven with scientific and philosophical references to light, to seeing and not seeing, and the differences between the two It s a beautiful work of genius, but it does get a little dense at times the prose bloated by details.
However, when we get into the meat of this WWII novel, it s also the harrowing story of a childhood torn apart by war It s about Parisian Marie Laure who has been blind since she was six years old, and a German orphan called Werner who finds himself at the centre of the Hitler Youth Both of their stories are told with sensitivity and sympathy, each one forced down a path by their personal circumstances and by that destructive monster war.
I think this is the kind of book you will never appreciate if you stop too soon I learned that lesson From the first to last page, there is a running theme of interconnectedness, of invisible lines running parallel to one another and sometimes, just sometimes, crossing in the strangest of ways These two lives we are introduced to seem to be worlds apart, and yet they come together and influence one another It was this, than the predictably awful tale of war, that made me feel quite emotional.
All the Light We Cannot See is haunting That s how I would describe it From the chillingly beautiful prose, to the realization of what the title actually means that underneath the surface of history, there is light and stories that have not been seen that have gone untold Scientifically, we only see a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum historically, we only see a small portion of the story.
Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Store I always thought, or imagined, that there were these invisible lines trembling in our wake, outlining our trajectories through life, throbbing with electric energy Lines that sometimes cross one other, or follow in parallel ellipses without ever touching, or meet up for one brief moment and then part A universe of lines crisscrossing in the void.
Anthony Doerr s astonishing new novel All the Light We Cannot See follows the complex arcs of two such invisible lines through the lives of Werner Pfennig, an orphan boy in pre World War II Germany and Marie Laure Leblanc, a blind girl living in Paris with her father Through riveting flash forwards and flash backs, the novel charters the course of their lives as they struggle to find out wether it is possible to really own your life when it is swallowed by the black holes of history One is driven by a deep love of science while the other is inhabited by the power of books In the midst of the rise of German fascism and the birth of the French Resistance, how does youth manage to stay true to its essence A war story, a coming of age story, a philosophical fable, this is a novel that constantly oscillates between the moral uncertainties of life and the chiselled precision of the natural world that surrounds us Between the political morass of war and the stupendous beauty of organisms, the ocean, the human brain The language is so fantastically precise Anthony Doerr does things with verbs that make entire paragraphs sing that the visual component of this book is quite astounding In the end, what this novel illuminates is the miraculous impact that seminal events have on the rest of our lives, whether it be the magic of radio broadcasts on the mysteries of science or the extraordinary adventures of Jules Verne s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea A deeply moving and enthralling work that echoes the power of early impressions on the building of a self, such as the philosopher Simon Critchley recently evoked so beautifully in a stunning essay published in The New York Times entitled The Dangers of Certainty