28 July 2014

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Book review

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476746586
  • Also available in KINDLE format


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.

(Les remparts de St Malo)

My thoughts:

To date the literary world encompasses many talented authors but as you know, there are always stars shining higher in any firmament and this work of fiction is by far one of the brightest! 

Anthony Doerr has successfully shaken any empathy we might experience with the volume of novels published in one given year! This is a novel you shall enjoy for its rich visual depth, each sentence bringing to mind another picture and a wealth of feelings guaranteed to make you feel you found a treasure here at last!

Doerr's words palpates as if he immersed himself in the very soul of his protagonists. In turn Marie-Laure and Werner leave the reader no alternative but to read yet another page and witness their attempts to survive another day in a world gone absolutely mad. 

Through young blind Marie-Laure is perceived a wealth of sensations hidden behind the veil of darkness, sound, smell and touch highlighted against the backdrop of Malacology and Conchology....

Young Werner is the German orphan who yearns for his place in the exalted life promised by the new Fascist Party and their idolized leader. 
As a chosen Cadet for Essen's National Political Institute of Education he is challenged to brutal extremes as he discovers a brand new world of unimaginable sciences. 
His skills in Trigonometry will take him from the Fatherland to Poland, Ukraine, Austria into the hellish Russian winters and finally into the ruins of St Malo, France.

"All Winter the Germans drive their horses and sledges and tanks and trucks over the same roads, packing down the snow, transforming it into a slick bloodstained ice-cement, And when April finally comes, reeking of sawdust and corpses, the canyon walls of snow give way while the ice on the roads remains stubbornly fixed, a luminous internecine network of invasion: a record of the crucifixion of Russia."

From Paris's world of Natural Sciences to the destruction of St Malo we follow a young girl caught in a whorl of events which ultimately will see her cross Werner's path, reminding us we are all like sea shells washed ashore, rolling with the tides to rest eventually on far away beaches...

A stunning work of fiction ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE brims in physical details of lives touched in countless ways by a senseless war and spanning lifetimes. Featuring short chapters this magnificent novel is to be savoured without rushing and don't be surprised if you are sorry to see those two little words: "The End". 
Let us hope Mr. Doerr will soon grant us another literary gem!

5 Stars (Only because there are no higher rating!)

Note: You'll have to read the novel to find out why the photo above was included in this post!

Warning: Due to adult thematic contents and some strong language, recommended for mature readers only.

(Photo source Google)

Meet the Author:

(Photo source thesundaytimes.co.uk)

Anthony Doerr's books have been NY Times Notable Books, an American Library Association Book of the Year, a 'Book of the Year' in the Washington Post, and he has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times.

Doerr's stories have appeared in lots of magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. His new novel, All The Light We Cannot See, was published in May, 2014. 

Visit his website

(Photo source Google)

Note: This was a library loan (albeit a copy has already been placed on order for my shelves!) and all opinions are mine only. 


  1. Thank you for the recommendation - noted! Perhaps, one day we will pass by on the streets of Rye, such a pretty small town, or Hastings. My dream at the moment is to return to this, my favourite part of the world.

    1. Just stopped by your blog, stunning photos! Enjoy every moment!

  2. What a beautiful book and a super high rating! I can't wait to read it! I better try to find it SOON! I mentioned you on my blog this morning! I got my Movie in the mail yesterday! Thank you SO much! Hugs, Diane

    1. Hi Noelle,
      Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hello. So nice to meet you and have a new blog to visit.
      This book sounds very interesting to me and I am now interested in reading some of your other reviews.

  3. It seems to me there isn't a shortage of good books to be made into films. Thanx Noelle for this review. Really enjoyed it.

    God bless.

  4. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention. We have such similar tastes in books, so I know I'm always going to find a gem when I visit your blog.

    1. Same here Anna and this is a very good one!
      All the best,


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