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All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel Hardcover – 6 May 2014
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From Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, 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.
*Soon to be a Netflix limited series from the producers of Stranger Things*
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. 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, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr's "stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors" (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer "whose sentences never fail to thrill" (Los Angeles Times).
"A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr's magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. . . . Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably recreates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers."-- "Booklist (starred review)"
"A tender exploration of this world's paradoxes; the beauty of the laws of nature and the terrible ends to which war subverts them; the frailty and the resilience of the human heart; the immutability of a moment and the healing power of time. The language is as expertly crafted as the master locksmith's models in the story, and the settings as intricately evoked. A compelling and uplifting novel."--M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans
"Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters."-- "Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"
"Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet. He knows about everything--radios, diamonds, mollusks, birds, flowers, locks, guns--but he also writes a line so beautiful, creates an image or scene so haunting, it makes you think forever differently about the big things--love, fear, cruelty, kindness, the countless facets of the human heart. Wildly suspenseful, structurally daring, rich in detail and soul, Doerr's new novel is that novel, the one you savor, and ponder, and happily lose sleep over, then go around urging all your friends to read--now."--J.R. Moehringer, author of Sutton and The Tender Bar
"Endlessly bold and equally delicate...An intricate miracle of invention, narrative verve, and deep research lightly held, but above all a miracle of humanity....Anthony Doerr's novel celebrates--and also accomplishes--what only the finest art can: the power to create, reveal, and augment experience in all its horror and wonder, heartbreak and rapture."-- "Shelf Awareness"
"If a book's success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize-winner Doerr's novel triumphs on both counts. He convinces readers...that war--despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices--cannot negate the pleasures of the world."-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"
"Intricate... A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences."-- "New Yorker"
"Sometimes a novel doesn't merely transport. It immerses, engulfs, keeps you caught within its words until the very end, when you blink and remember there's a world beyond the pages. All the Light We Cannot See is such a book... Vibrant, poignant, delicately exquisite. Despite the careful building of time and place (so vivid you fall between the pages), it's not a story of history; it's a story of people living history."-- "Historical Novel Society"
"Stunning and ultimately uplifting... Doerr's not-to-be-missed tale is a testament to the buoyancy of our dreams, carrying us into the light through the darkest nights."-- "Entertainment Weekly"
"The whole enthralls."-- "Good Housekeeping"
"This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece, its many threads coming together so perfectly. Doerr's writing and imagery are stunning. It's been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion. The story still lives on in my head."--Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
What a delight! This novel has exquisite writing and a wonderfully suspenseful story. A book you'll tell your friends about...--Frances Itani, author of Deafening
"A beautiful, expansive tale...Ambitious and majestic."--Steph Cha "Los Angeles Times"
"A revelation."--Michael Magras "BookReporter.com"
"Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits."--Elissa Schappell "Vanity Fair"
"Anthony Doerr writes beautifully... A tour de force."--Elizabeth Reed "Deseret Morning News"
"Beautifully written... Soulful and addictive."--Chris Stuckenschneider "The Missourian"
"Doerr conjures up a vibrating, crackling world...Intricately, beautifully crafted."--Rebecca Kelley "Bustle.com"
"Doerr deftly guides All the Light We Cannot See toward the day Werner's and Marie-Laure lives intersect during the bombing of Saint-Malo in what may be his best work to date."--Yvonne Zipp "Christian Science Monitor"
"Doerr has packed each of his scenes with such refractory material that All the Light We Cannot See reflects a dazzling array of themes....Startlingly fresh."--John Freeman "The Boston Globe"
"Doerr is an exquisite stylist; his talents are on full display."--Alan Cheuse "NPR"
"Enthrallingly told, beautifully written...Every piece of back story reveals information that charges the emerging narrative with significance, until at last the puzzle-box of the plot slides open to reveal the treasure hidden inside."--Amanda Vaill "Washington Post"
"Exquisite...Mesmerizing...Nothing short of brilliant."--Alice Evans "Portland Oregonian"
"Gorgeous... moves with the pace of a thriller... Doerr imagines the unseen grace, the unseen light that, occasionally, surprisingly, breaks to the surface even in the worst of times."--Dan Cryer "San Francisco Chronicle"
"Hauntingly beautiful."--Janet Maslin "The New York Times"
"History intertwines with irresistible fiction--secret radio broadcasts, a cursed diamond, a soldier's deepest doubts--into a richly compelling, bittersweet package."--Mary Pols "People (3 1/2 stars)"
"Incandescent... a luminous work of strife and transcendence... with characters as noble as they are enthralling"--Hamilton Cain "O, the Oprah magazine"
"Intricately structured...All the Light We Cannot See is a work of art and of preservation."--Jane Ciabattari "BBC"
"Magnificent."--Carmen Callil "The Guardian (UK)"
"Perfectly captured...Doerr writes sentences that are clear-eyed, taut, sweetly lyrical."--Josh Cook "Minneapolis Star Tribune"
"Stupendous...A beautiful, daring, heartbreaking, oddly joyous novel."--David Laskin "The Seattle Times"
"The craftsmanship of Doerr's book is rooted in his ability to inhabit the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner...[A] fine novel."--Steve Novak "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"
"There is so much in this book. It is difficult to convey the complexity, the detail, the beauty and the brutality of this simple story."--Carole O'Brien "Aspen Daily News"
"This novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece...[All the Light We Cannot See] presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending...Highly recommended for fans of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient."--Evelyn Beck "Library Journal (starred review)"
"This tough-to-put-down book proves its worth page after lyrical page...Each and every person in this finely spun assemblage is distinct and true."--Sharon Peters "USA Today"
"To open a book by Anthony Doerr is to open a door on humanity...His sentences shimmer...His paragraphs are luminous with bright, sparkling beauty."--Martha Anne Toll "Washington Independent Review of Books"
"Vivid...[All the Light We Cannot See] brims with scrupulous reverence for all forms of life. The invisible light of the title shines long after the last page."--Tricia Springstubb "Cleveland Plain Dealer"
About the Author
- Publisher : Scribner Book Company (6 May 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 544 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476746583
- ISBN-13 : 978-1501132872
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 3.81 x 22.86 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 123,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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The characters are wonderful with the main two both brave souls.
Werner Pfennig has a sister, Jutta, Werner fines he can fix wireless, he and Jutta find a station broadcasting lessons on science. Once people know, all call on Werner to fix their wireless. With war braking out Werner knows he wont go down the mines. So he does a hard cause which he passes that lead him down a place of darkness.
Then there's young Marie - Laure who sadly goes blind. With the help of her loving father she is taught brail from books he buys her and ways for finding herself around with her cain by counting. As the casualties of war start, Marie - Laure is taken to her great uncle Elienne LeBlain's place. When Marie-Laure's father goes out one day, never to return, it's Elienne the one who always hides away from the past, brings life back to Marie-Laure and himself, who has began to love his great niece. One day he takes her to the 6th floor where he shows her his wireless hidden inside a wardrobe at the back. Sometime later, finding herself all alone when her uncle doesn't return she goes to the wardrobe where she reads out her books and plays music. It at the ending of the war and while playing with the wireless, Werner hears it. They go out looking, Werner finds Marie-Laure he says to her..."You are very brave ", She lowers the bucket "What's is your name?. He tells her, When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was very brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it's not brave, I had no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the sane?"
He says."Not in many years. But today. Today maybe I did",
It was from Marie -Laure that Werner learns out the lessons on science , he and his sister listerned to came from, Marie - Laure's grandfather all that time ago.
A very sad read, that makes war, so sad to those who were too young, as these were.
Highly recommended read.
It is gauche to lift an incident ("He fixes radio by thinking") straight out of Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman s autobiographical stories and assign it to a child half Feynman s age at the time, as if to make Werner twice as smart.
The radio blunders are also historical. Elementary research would have shown that Grundig did not make radios until after the War. It is anomalous to have a Nazi officer own an American Philco while German Telefunkin and Siemans radios of the period were just as complex, and as emphasised in the book, it was unpatriotic to own a US one. Dirty cardboard cutout Russian rapists have crude and contemptible radios. In fact, Russian army field radios were either supplied by the US or close copies. None were "milled out of steel".
Though Werner s radio location team hunted in areas with the German armies and SS extermination squads that massacred prisoners, Jews, Poles and Russian civilians alike, there is no mention of this.
The historical setting of wartime France, particularly after 1943, is unrealistic because the roles of the Resistance, collaborators and the Vichy government are ignored. As D-day approached it would have been dangerous for lone German officers and soldiers to wander about, especially if they were robbing French civilians. No acts of sabotage are recounted, yet the Hotel of the Bees which housed an 88 never lost power or supplies. By the way, bumblebees do not make honey.
This book has been very favourably reviewed, which is well deserved.
My instincts had told me that these two main characters would somehow connect, but it was in a way that was totally unexpected. There are many underlying stories interwoven:- the journeys of Marie-Laure's beloved Papa and his uncle Etienne; the mysterious diamond, "The Sea of Flames"; Werner's sister, Jutta; the "giant" soldier, Volkheimer; Werner's gentle friend, Frederick; and the relentlessly obsessive Von Rumpel. "All the Light We Cannot See" is a story about good, evil, courage, survival, hope for the future, and unexpected connections. Many images stayed with me long after the story ended. Five stars is not enough for this engrossing classic.
Top reviews from other countries
The book is nearly 600 pages long. All made up of very short chapters of 2-3 pages long. Just as you start to get into the story, the next chapter takes you into a completely different time period without any warning or prelude! In places, the book unexpectedly introduces random new characters in a completely unconnected fashion (and only for one chapter of 2-3 pages!) before the story jumps again to the main characters in the following chapter.
I am not a stranger to difficult to read books or to stories made up of multiple strands and lifetimes of many characters across decades and sometimes even centuries of history but I hated this book!
The author's writing has been ruined by his inability to tell the story in a compelling way that would be coherent and enjoyable to read! Such a shame but this is one hugely disappointing read!
Is happy a word to be used when talking about this book, this time period? Maybe not but the author did make me very happy. It’s very important to me that I feel connected to the characters and transported to places in the books and it did that and more.
The book jumps from time periods of Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s life, from their teen years to their younger years and back and forth. Sometimes it was a bit confusing to keep track of it, sometimes because it was an e-book, it was even frustrating to not be able to flip back to the pages I lost my thread. (An actual paperback really helps with this, it just gives me satisfaction if nothing else.)
Everything about the book made me fall in love with it. There are the usual World War II horrors and you can’t escape them, most times, I was so acutely uncomfortable with the scene but I moved ahead anyway. This book is an absolute must-read if you like reading about the World War II. Not because it’s super informative or because there’s tons of other things that could make you relate to the people of the times more. It’s more to understand how it felt for the children, for those who grew up in Germany and had to join Hitler’s army. For the children who had nobody left, those who couldn’t do much for themselves. Marie-Laure and Werner might be fictional but there were real people who were in their places at some point. They must have faced countless problems and horrors.
It is that feeling that makes me think that people should really read it.
I have a lot of wonderful things to say about it and I could say it but there’s also the one bit that I felt almost unnecessary in the book. Yes, the hunt for the Sea of Flames. The diamond. That part always felt unnecessary and almost tacked on as if it was an afterthought. I am not saying I didn’t enjoy the fantasy of it and there was a realistic part to it but at the same time, it just didn’t click with the rest of the book.
However that does not negate all the awesome things about this book and so, this remains a five-star book.
I would recommend it to anyone who loves to read World War II fiction or who wants to see how language can be elevated to this level. If you wanna read in leisure, you totally can!! This book, despite it being based during the World War II, has an almost unhurried pace to it. It’s just me who wouldn’t stop reading.
And if you still have any doubts about this book, it’s worth mentioning that it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. So, there’s that?
But all that said, I didn't find it enjoyable to read.
It took a while to figure out why. Even while reading it I'm thinking to myself "This is so good", but at the same time wondering why I'm bored and looking forward to the next book.
Finally I think I nailed it. Nothing really happens. It's all set in amongst the background of a lot happening, but other than hearing about it, there's not much that really goes on with the characters that so much time has been spent making us love.
This feels like all the parts of a fantastic book that happen BETWEEN the major plot points.
I spent the majority of this book waiting for something to happen, and when it doesn't it feels like there no payoff for the time invested in these characters.
Maybe this is what literary fiction is about. I can see why people may like it. It's life through the eyes of others.
But books are a form of entertainment. This wasn't entertaining to me, and I couldn't wait to start a new book.
Marie Laure is an 11 yrs old blind girl, who is taken from Paris to St Malo, by her father for safety. Werner is an 11 yrs old German boy, who is a genius with technology i e old fashioned radios of the era. He attends an elite school for the German Ideal. Werner progresses to be an important part of discovering illegal radios used by the Resistance in the St Malo area.
Some very interesting facts are given and there’s obviously a lot going on; mostly about the sadness, hardship and devastating consequences of war. Paths cross along the way. Various plot threads interact. There are some heroic pleasing characters and equally some distasteful cruel individuals.
Would recommend but advise sticking with the unusual style.