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
Love a good mystery, but don't care much for pure thrillers.
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.
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.
No. The narrator's voice is annoying and monotonous. His attempts to pronounce foreign words are just silly.
By having someone else narrate read the book.
All the Words I Cannot Bear
The story, while not the most exciting story I've heard/read, was not the main problem.
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.
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.
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.
All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book more confusing. I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the story. In this book they do not improve the story. Perhaps jumping from one scene to another can increase suspense, but must one also flip back and forth in time? In addition, more and more books are made for audios, and this is not helpful when you cannot flip back to see where you are. Finally, time switches unnecessarily lengthen the novel.
Secondly, be aware when you choose this book that the book is not only about WW2 but also a diamond that some of the characters, quite a few in fact, believe has magical powers. Those who possess the stone will not die, but people around that person will come to misfortune. This is all stated in one of the very first chapters; it is not a spoiler. This aspect of the book turns the story into a mystery novel. Where is the gem? Who has it? The result is that you have a heavy dose of fantasy woven into a book of historical fiction. I have trouble with both fantasy and mystery novels. Maybe you love them. (I would have preferred that the diamond was woven into the story as one of the objects stolen by the Nazis.)
Let's look at how the book portrays WW2. It is set primarily in Brittany, France, and Germany and a little bit in Russia and Vienna. Its primary focus is about what warfare does to people, not the leaders, but normal people. I liked that you saw into the heads and felt the emotions of both Germans and French. Some of the Germans are evil but you also come to understand how living in those times shaped you. To stand up against the Nazi regime was almost impossible. There are some who try. These events are gripping. You also get the feel of life in Brittany versus Paris. They are not the same. I enjoyed the feel of the air, the wind in my face and the salty tang on my lips in St. Malo. I do wonder to what extent my appreciation of Brittany as a place is more due to my own time there or the author's writing. Am I remembering my own experiences, or am I seeing it from the words of the author? I am unsure about this.
In any case, I was very disturbed by the blend of fantasy with gripping WW2 events.
The events of WW2 are those portrayed in every book. If you have read about WW2 in numerous other books of fiction or non-fiction you will not get much new. Rape by Russians felt like the author had to include this simply so it could be to be togged off his checklist. I do think the book moves the reader on an emotional level. You get terribly angry and shocked, and this is achieved through the author's writing, his excellent prose.
And this is what saves the book – its prose. The descriptions of things and places, the particular grip of a hand, movement of a body and what characters say. Very good writing. Beautiful writing. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you feel that wind on your skin or the touch of a shell against your fingertips or smile at the oh so recognizable words of a child. Children often see far more than adults, but they also talk in a clear, simple manner. What they say is to the point - could that diamond be thrown away? Of course not. As remarked by one of the French children, "Who is going to chuck into the Seine a stone worth several Eiffel Towers?" Even if the gem has dangerous powers!
People love reading about kids and one of them here is blind. Who wouldn't be moved by such!
The narration by Zach Appelman didn't add much, but neither did it terribly detract from the story. I appreciated how he read some lines with a beat, a rhythm which matched the cadence of the author's words. Pauses were well placed. French pronunciation was lacking.
Oh my, once I got going I told you what I felt. I believe this book will be popular, and many will like it, but not me.
I Read Memoirs
Yes. Every sentence of this book is a gem and deserves to be savored.
The characters gripped me from the start. The plot carried me forward --as well as the flowing prose.
don't have one
The blind girl, of course.
Doerr's use of active verbs astounds. Zach Appleman's narration is superb and does this wonderful book justice. I've recommended the book to all my friends and book club.
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.
The story about the experiences of a German youth and a French girl during World War II whose lives eventually touch is well plottted. The prose is rich and sensuous, and the writer does a fine job describing how the world is experienced by the blind girl. My one criticism of the book is that the narrative jumps around chronologically for no obvious reason, and this is sometimes confusing. The narrative performance is OK, but not outstanding. He tends to read descriptive prose rather as Garrison Keeler reads poetry--in a uniformly lugubrious manner.
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