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 12, 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.
©2014 Anthony Doerr (P)2014 Simon & Schuster Audio
I must join the ranks of those that disliked this book. Although I finished it, I felt it was a labor rather than a labor of love. The narration moved through different periods of time making it confusing to follow. I felt the descriptions were too flowery and forced. Metaphors ran rampant. Too many dream sequences.
If you enjoyed watching "The English Patient", you'll probably like this book.
I liked the concept of the book. Chapters alternate between the PoV of the German boy and the French, blind girl, whose destinies ultimately intersect. Events were not presented chronologically but were also not simply a flashback or two, so it was sometimes hard to follow. After a certain point, the story kind of dragged. I have the feeling that the emotional impact of the book would have been greater if it were shorter. Nevertheless, the painful experience of growing up during the late 30's and 40's comes through clearly. The prose is very good; descriptions are vivid and lifelike. I could have done without the fantasies and dream sequences.
The narrator did a very good job. I wonder whether I would have finished without it.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a beautifully written novel. It's one of the best written novels I've read in the past couple of years. Truly incredible, and yet I could not get into it. No matter what I tried to do I couldn't get into this tragic World War II tale. I tried re-reading parts, I took a break from it, and eventually just decided to push through. You ever read something and know its great but just not for you? That's how I felt with All the Light We Cannot See.
The novel follows two teens in Germany and France during World War II. Mari-Laure a blind girl in Paris France lives with her dad who works at the Natural History museum. Then you have Werner a young boy who loves fixing/building radios. There stories are told concurrently and for me just never were that interesting. That's horrible to say I know but I just could not get into their tales, their families, or their journey.
I get that this might make me come across heartless, but for me I was just bored. I finished this book to more relief then anything. I knew the entire time that this was a brilliantly written book but one obviously not written for me.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
It seems that sometimes the best way to understand how big events impact the world is to get a glimpse of how they impact individual people. That is exactly what happens with this book.
You can read the summary and know the book is set in WWII and two children are involved. I've read plenty about the war, but this book gave me just a little more insight into kids and what they went through at the time. In addition, Marie-Laure's situation is even more unique. I kept thinking throughout the book about people with disabilities and what they do when the world around them goes upside down.
About the narration ... I wasn't impressed at first. As the book went on, I really came to appreciate his style of narration. He doesn't inhabit the characters. He reads the story. In this particular case, it worked for me. I think if he'd used a voice appropriate for a 14-year-old French girl, it would have been very odd. A competent reading is all that was necessary.
Addicted to Audible!
I found this book to be extremely well written and a beautiful story. It captured the story of two people caught up in crazy times and tragic situations. It demonstrated that human courage and ethics can overcome war and the insanity it produces. The character development was excellent and the main characters are so likeable, you are rooting for them the entire time. My only complaint is that it was just a little too wordy and needed some better editing. For those who love good prose, you may find it perfect, but I found it getting tedious in some parts. Overall, I loved the book and would recommend it highly.
It's hard to review a book when the reviewer knows he is not of the same opinion as the majority.
This novel has almost everything...a talented author, great narration, and a solid story line that is true to the era that has inspired the story. It is a love story that has been praised by the vast majority of readers who experienced it.
This book wore me out. The darkness was overbearing and outweighed the novel itself. The few glimpses of happiness and joy we feel with the protagonist are not often enough or deep enough to make up for the persistent pain and the emptiness that the characters experience on a daily basis. For that reason, the novel lost a star.
I have always been sensitive to the horror of those times, and finished this selection out of respect for that decade(s). Would have liked to experience a little more of the light they couldn't see.
Superb. This book is superb.
On its simplest level, the story is excellent. Empathetic: most of the main characters are children facing hardships before WWII (Marie-Laure is blind, Werner is a miner's orphan), but they are children who are loved. The story shows us how WWII disrupts, frightens and challenges them to rely on their characters, courage and intellectual gifts. It is also a suspense novel, with several plot lines moving inevitably closer and closer so that the last quarter of the book is impossible to put down, and the reader finds herself holding her breath sometimes.
Anthony Doerr's beautifully drawn images elevate this book to a study in what it means to be human. The craft in the writing, character development, and context is deceptively simple and elegant - the artistry here never shows a seam. Even minor characters are rich and full and interesting.
I listen to most of my books, but this one compels me to buy the physical book so I can look again at those pure, simple sentences that move the story and its characters forward. For audio listeners, the narrator does a great job - simple and clear like the writer.
Whether i liked the book or not.... A little hard to follow at times as it jumped around in time and was too flowery for the sake of flowery.... The story was very good and kept your attention.... If you liked the book thief you will like this, but not quite as much..... It makes you think about how easy and good we have it.... And how that can change ..... Would recommend it....
Beautifully written, poignant, heartening. I listened while visiting Normandy for a week. Listening as I stood at the DDay beaches was a powerful experience. It moves first at a slow pace so you can be immersed in the mood and feel of WW II Europe and get used to the names and languages.
Through the eyes of children, one of whom saw with her heart, the other with his immense abilities, the saga unfolds. So beautifully written; such a magnificent performance. How I clung to the words, wishing they would not have to reach an end. Yet the ending occurred, as ever must be, I sighed and I smiled warmly, satisfactorily. This book will remain in my memory.
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