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All the Light We Cannot See (2014)

by Anthony Doerr

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,534685389 (4.29)671
Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father's life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.… (more)
  1. 290
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Blogletter)
  2. 192
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (gypsysmom)
    gypsysmom: Similar locale in that Guernsey and St. Malo were occupied by the German army during World War II. Resistance is also a main theme in both of them.
  3. 101
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (LISandKL)
  4. 60
    Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi (cataylor, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both of these heartbreaking World War II novels cause readers to pine for a happier ending than is possible for the characters. The stylistically complex writing describes the struggles that the characters -- some with physical challenges -- go through to survive.… (more)
  5. 52
    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These moving, stylistically complex novels reflect on the brutality of World War II and its lingering effects. The characters have diverse backgrounds, some supporting the Germans and others the Allies. Their wartime experiences threaten to ruin their futures.… (more)
  6. 10
    The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre (olyvia, olyvia)
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    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (sturlington)
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    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (sturlington)
  9. 00
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (sturlington)
  10. 00
    April in Paris by Michael Wallner (GoST)
    GoST: Another novel set in occupied France with a relationship between a German soldier and a French girl.
  11. 00
    A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead (srdr)
  12. 00
    Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins (WSB7)
    WSB7: Similar overarching theme.
  13. 11
    Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian (cataylor)
  14. 01
    The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer (Othemts)
  15. 12
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Othemts)
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» See also 671 mentions

English (660)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (4)  French (3)  Danish (2)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (681)
Showing 1-5 of 660 (next | show all)
An amazing novel. No wonder it won the Pulitzer. The characters, the prose, the biology lessons, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea". It all comes together in a stunning tale of life, love, war, sacrifice, and compassion. It is hard to explain the story only with words. It draws the reader in using many different emotions, emotions caused not only by the storyline itself but also by the turn of a phrase or just the right word at the right time. I loved it! ( )
  khoyt | Aug 2, 2020 |
2.75 stars... The story was interesting and the prose were beautiful . It was an excruciatingly slow read due to the constant shift from point of view and time period. These interruptions made the story hard to follow. The author also provided descriptions of memories and setting which disrupted the flow of the story. I kept losing interest and forced myself to get through them. There were parts of the plot that were never explained or resolved. The ending was very disappointing! I am glad I resisted the temptation of buying it and borrowed it from the library instead. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this book with it's enchanting language.
It was like finding where all the pieces fit in a magical 4 dimensional jigsaw puzzle.
There were two main players Marie-Laure and Werner, interacting with others in their lives.
The time dimension served as an extra element in the story painting scenes of them growing up then what is currently happening.
Good descriptive phrasing.
Eg p129, “maybe it's the sea and the wind, her ears unable to unbraid the two.”
( )
  GeoffSC | Jul 25, 2020 |
Interesting story.
  KatiesCottage | Jul 11, 2020 |
Gorgeous and absorbing -- many, many unforgettable and heart-wrenching moments... ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 660 (next | show all)
What really makes a book of the summer is when we surprise ourselves. It’s not just about being fascinated by a book. It’s about being fascinated by the fact that we’re fascinated.

The odds: 2-1
All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Pros: Blind daughter of a locksmith meets reluctant Nazi engineering whiz! What more do you want?
Cons: Complex, lyrical historical fiction may not have the necessary mass appeal.
“All the Light We Cannot See” is more than a thriller and less than great literature. As such, it is what the English would call “a good read.” Maybe Doerr could write great literature if he really tried. I would be happy if he did.
I’m not sure I will read a better novel this year than Anthony ­Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See.”
By the time the narrative finds Marie-Laure and Werner in the same German-occupied village in Brittany, a reader’s skepticism has been absolutely flattened by this novel’s ability to show that the improbable doesn’t just occur, it is the grace that allows us to survive the probable.
Werner’s experience at the school is only one of the many trials through which Mr. Doerr puts his characters in this surprisingly fresh and enveloping book. What’s unexpected about its impact is that the novel does not regard Europeans’ wartime experience in a new way. Instead, Mr. Doerr’s nuanced approach concentrates on the choices his characters make and on the souls that have been lost, both living and dead.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Apr 28, 2014)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Doerrprimary authorall editionscalculated
Appelman, ZachNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barba, AndrésTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bosch, EefjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cáceres, Carmen M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clauzier, ManuelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goretsky, TalCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Immink, WilCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Löcher-Lawrence, WernerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sasahara, Ellen R.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stokseth, LeneOvers.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tarkka, HannaKääNt.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vieira, Manuel AlbertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In August 1944 the historic walled city of Saint-Malo,
the brightest jewel of the Emerald Coast of Brittany,
France, was almost totally destroyed by fire. . . . Of the
865 buildings within the walls, only 182 remained
standing and all were damaged to some degree.
—Philip Beck
It would not have been possible for us to take power or
to use it in the ways we have without the radio.
—Joseph Goebbels
For Wendy Weil
First words
At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles.
If only life were like a Jules Verne novel, thinks Marie-Laure, and you could page ahead when you most needed to, and learn what would happen.
Nothing will be healed in this kitchen.  Some griefs can never be put right.
Music spirals out of the radios, and it is splendid to drowse on the davenport, to be warm and fed, to feel the sentences hoist her up and carry her somewhere else.
There is pride, too, though — pride that he has done it alone. That his daughter is so curious, so resilient. There is the humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That's how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane.
Werner tries to see what Frederick sees: a time before photography, before binoculars. And here was someone willing to tramp out into a wilderness brimming with the unknown and bring back paintings. A book not so much full of birds as full of evanescence, of blue-winged trumpeting mysteries.
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Book description
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.
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