Monday, May 16, 2016

All The Light We Cannot See - book review

The 2015 Fiction Pulitzer Prize winner was written by Anthony Doerr over a period of ten years.

All the Light We Cannot See primarily follows two characters during World War II. The story begins in 1944, then travels back to 1934 where each of the characters' story begins.

Marie-Laure is a blind French girl whose father works as a key master at the Paris Museum of Natural History. When Marie-Laure lost her sight at the age of six, he built a miniature version of the city so that she could learn her way around. In the midst of the war, Marie-Laure and her father leave Paris to live with her great-uncle in the city of Saint-Malo.

Werner is a German orphan who finds an old radio and listens to late night broadcasts with his sister Jutta. He becomes a soldier to avoid working in the coal mines where his father lost his life. He has a natural talent for building and repairing radios and transmitters.

There's so much more in this novel (a German soldier determined to find jewels for Hitler's [unrealized] museum, a huge gemstone called the "Sea of Flames", the story of those late night broadcasts, resistance workers, how Marie-Laure and Werner's paths cross, etc), but I don't want to spoil any of it!

All the Light We Cannot See is beautifully written, with no extraneous words, yet with exquisite detail. I really wanted a nice fairy tale ending, but this is a war time novel after all - there are quite a few characters and some are killed or simply disappear. However, there are several chapters at the end of the book that let the reader see what happens to some of the characters after the war. I highly recommend this book.

Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I read All The Light We Cannot See. Also in the spirit of not giving things away, I was intrigued about human behaviour when pushed during extreme circumstances. I think I would re-read.

  2. one I've actually read, a beautiful story.

  3. I read this over a year ago, and haven't forgotten much of it. It was a wonderful story, and I agree, beautifully written. I read it on my Kindle, however, which made keeping track of the changes in time rather challenging.

  4. I haven't read this, although I think I would enjoy it. That's a clever title, somehow it stays in the head doesn't it?

  5. I, too, read this one and thoroughly enjoyed it. The human spirit is amazing!


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