All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Wow, I loved this book and if you haven’t read it, run out and buy it or download it and sink your teeth into this novel.  I don’t think you will be able to put the book down.

Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See is brilliant; he brings the story to life and you will just want to hang within the pages, never leaving.

Set in Paris during the war, the story toggles back and forth between the two main families and the years of the war.

Monsieur LeBlanc is a widower raising his 6 year old daughter Marie-Laure.  He works as the primary locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History.

Werner Pfennig and his younger sister Jutta are orphans and live in the Children’s House outside of Essen, Germany.  The orphanage is run by Frau Elena and she loves the children she is raising. While times are extremely harsh, she does the best she can with the children in her care.  Werner is 7 at the time the story begins in 1934.  He is a small boy, but smart.  Werner finds a radio and re-wires it getting to work.  He loves to read scientific magazines and dreams of working with electronics.  Radio’s in these years were as important as the internet is today, people depended on them for news and contact with the outside world.  Werner fixes radios for people and as he gets older, he can fix anything.  The German military takes notice and he is drafted.

Marie-Laure is blind and completely dependent on her father.  Her father adores her, but also understands that it is his responsibility to teach her to navigate the world without sight.  He painstakingly builds their Paris neighborhood in a miniature model, so she can feel her way around the buildings and down the streets.  As each of her birthdays roll around, Monsieur LeBlanc gives her a puzzle box, one she has to figure out how to open without sight.  Each box holds a treasure, and this ability will play a big part in Marie-Laure’s life as the war rages on.

As Paris starts to fall during the war, the Sea of Flames, a blue stone which is believed to hold magical powers is housed in the museum.  Curators wanting to get the stone out of the museum and Paris, employees are handed stones, yet no one knows if they have the authentic stone. Will the true stone be discovered, who will have it and will the belief that it keeps those safe who are in possession of it ring true?

Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint Malo to stay with family.  Monsieur LeBlanc will spend his time building another miniature replica of Saint Malo so Marie-Laure can learn her way around the town, but one building will be different.

Werner, still a soldier, while the war rages and he stays off the front lines by working on radios and transmitters. He secretly searches for illegal transmissions, to then hunt down the rule breakers and punish them.  Saint Malo is now being attacked and Marie-Laure and Werner’s worlds will collide in a most unusual way, secrets are revealed and a puzzle box will also hold a secret.

The story is so vividly written, that at times you will feel you are standing in the shadows, feeling bombs dropping, watching the war unfold around you and wanting to help Marie-Laure and Werner.  At one point, I found myself holding my breath with Marie-Laure for fear of being heard.

All the Light We Cannot See will stay with me for a very long time.

If you have read it, or once you are done reading the book, please jump back on to this blog post and let me know your thoughts.  I would love to have an online discussion with you about the book.

The discussion at book club last night was thought provoking and lively.  Some had different takes on situations and events in the book.  It was fun to hear about each one’s favorite character and why.  We sat outside under the stars, beautiful puffy clouds dotting the sky, dining on a light salad bar which was perfect for a warm summer’s night discussing this incredible book.

For Book Club questions, follow this link: http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/9734-all-light-we-cannot-see-doerr?start=3

Enjoy reading All The Light We Cannot See,

See you all soon to discuss another book,

Bee Readin’
Terri

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Comments

  1. I read this book and agree 100% with what you said. It was one of the best books I’ve read in some time and one of the few that sticks with you. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got it, just that it got rave reviews. As a guy that likes books by Lee Childs (Reacher series) or Clive Cussler (Dirk Pitt) and other action type books, I wasn’t sure if this would be too tame for me. It wasn’t. It was a page turner, very well-written, and suspenseful. Not to mention educational.

    Thanks for reviewing and recommending this book!

    • Terri

      Bob, So glad you loved it too! I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect either, but from the first short chapter, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. Felt like I was there, which speaks volumes of his writing.
      Thank you for the comments and other suggestions too.
      Terri

  2. Ah, Terri, I am so glad you found this a wonderful read too. It is one of my all time favourite books. Every single word is such a delight. I subsequently read everything he wrote that I could lay my hands on, and it certainly is his best work thus far, I think. Another book of his that I enjoyed is a memoir documenting a year spent in Rome writing, “Four Seasons in Rome”, during which time he has started work on “All the Light We Cannot See”. Worth checking out if you haven’t already read it.

    • Terri

      Jolandi, I agree, this is now one of my all time favorites. Thank you for the recommendation to “Four Seasons in Rome”. I will definitely put it on my list to read. It is hard to start reading something new, when I have just finished a great book that will stay me forever. Thanks for the comment and reading the blog.

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