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All the Light We Cannot See (2014)
by Anthony Doerr
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No current Talk conversations about this book.
2.5 stars but to be fair not my type of book. Did enjoy it in patches but ending up only skimming through the last half. ( )
Maybe I should have read this before I read Cloud Cuckoo Land as you can clearly see Doerr developing some of the techniques he used to such great effect in the later book here. Coming to this second also left me a little disappointed in that it didn’t (couldn’t) match up to the impact of Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Having said all that, this is still an excellent read, and one of the most personal and well balanced World War 2 stories I’ve read. It puts a sincere and emotional focus on the human experience of war from participants on all sides.
I did find it started to run out of steam towards the end as the climatic intersection of the main story lines was telegraphed pretty far in advance, and the epilogue dragged as we didn’t need to have every plot point wrapped up. Sometimes not knowing what happened next is a more engaging way to end.
Heard and read so many positive reviews on this book was looking forward to reading it. It disappoints - at least for me. Redundant, drags, too much focus on character development and not enough on events. "Beneath a Scarlet Sky" - similar genre - is a much better book
This book has won multiple prizes and garnered a lot of kudos, all deserved, in my opinion. Set mainly during World War II, the story skips around in time and with character POVs in a very easy-to-follow format that keeps the action flowing. The main characters are Werner, a young German boy interested in science, especially radios, and Marie-Laure, a young French girl who developed blindness as a child. Her father works at the Natural Museum of France as a locksmith, and Marie has a varied education in the sciences due to attending with her father daily. As the war comes, Werner is enrolled in a brutal German school for young Aryan men while Marie moves to St. Malo, a walled town on the coast of Brittany, to her agoraphobic great-uncle's home.
The author pulls no punches in describing the horrors of the Nazi regime, the war, and the occupation but narrates in an almost dry manner that somehow makes it all seem worse than a graphic description. At times, the story is gut-wrenching but also tender as the reader progresses to the meeting of the two protagonists.
The supporting characters are written just as vividly and memorably on both sides. There are really no minor characters here, just people I will think about for a long time. I can see why it won the Pulitzer.
Although it has taken me some time to get to All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, I can now understand both the hype this book generated and the many awards it earned. This is an excellent tale of historical fiction where the story unfolds in two ways, one being the story of Werner, a German soldier who is a genius in mathematics and electrical technology, while the other is about a blind French girl, Marie Laure, who with her father escapes the invasion of Paris and ends up in Saint-Malo, in the home of her great-uncle for the duration of the war.
While Werner becomes a hunter of radio transmissions, Marie Laure gets involved in the French resistance and along with her uncle, transmits information to the allies. We know that these two stories will eventually collide, but we are uncertain of the outcome. There were many heartwarming and heartbreaking moments in the book as it captures the internal and external conflicts of the two main characters.
I found All the Light We Cannot See totally captivating. This is a well crafted book designed to envelope the reader in it’s poetic imagery and the multiple points of view help to create an immersive reading experience. I have a feeling that this book will definitely be among my top favorite reads of 2023.
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
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.
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All the Light We Cannot See: 5 Minute Digest: Book Notes for Readers and Groups by 5 Minute Publications
Has as a student's study guide
Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See: Study Notes for Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences 2019-2023 HSC by Bruce Pattinson
All The Light We Cannot See: A Novel By Anthony Doerr | Unofficial Summary & Analysis by Razerfin Books
All The Light We Cannot See: A Novel By Anthony Doerr | A BookMarked Summary and Analysis (Chapter By Chapter, All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, All The Light We Cannot See review) by All The Light
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Wikipedia in English (3)
"From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel 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 within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure. Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work"--
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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An edition of this book was published by Beyond Words Publishing.