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All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel | [Anthony Doerr]

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

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4.3 (2282 )
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  •  
    Bonny 07-04-14
    Bonny 07-04-14

    Addicted to books, both print and audio-.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Intensely moving, complex, completely absorbing"

    I’m finding it hard to put into words how fine and beautiful this novel is. Anthony Doerr has created a stunning book, full of exquisite writing and beautifully-drawn characters. The plot is intricately woven, with several strands that are developed independently, then gradually wind around each other. The book moves forward and backwards in time, always focused on and progressing steadily toward the climax. It is one of the best novels I’ve read about World War II, and possibly the most moving.

    The author writes so comprehensively, with such delicacy and finesse; he creates such vivid circumstances and settings that he doesn’t need to tell us how his characters feel. He lays the framework: we know the characters, we experience their lives with them, and therefore we know how they feel. It is deeply affecting.

    This, like much of the fiction written about World War II, focuses on the suffering and misery of the Jewish people, France, Russia, etc., but here a major theme is also what the Nazis did to themselves and to the German people. They systematically made themselves and their people into monsters, and this is shown in heartbreaking detail. As difficult as that is, the author balances it with humanity, courage, and love. It's not a depressing book, not in the least, but it's not an easy feel-good read; there is a great deal of complexity here.

    The narration is beautifully done by Zach Appelman, who seems to be quite new to audiobooks. His delivery has just the right amount of feeling. He doesn’t over-emote or over-dramatize the material. He mispronounces a few words, but other than that, the narration is flawless.

    It’s a wonderful, engaging, utterly absorbing, highly moving listen. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy 06-11-14
    Tammy 06-11-14

    Wife, mom of one amazing son, and I have the second best job in the world, working in a bookstore :)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great historical fiction"
    What did you love best about All the Light We Cannot See?

    I loved that it was a story of a personal human side of the war and not so much about the war. It kind of reminded me of The Book Thief. Also the author did a great job describing things and places so that you felt like you were right there.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of All the Light We Cannot See?

    There were memorable moments that were shocking and then memorable moments that made you smile. I loved the beginning account of Marie-Laure and her dad working at the museum and then later her relationship with her great uncle.


    Which character – as performed by Zach Appelman – was your favorite?

    Marie-Laure


    If you could take any character from All the Light We Cannot See out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The great uncle because of his great imagination and the fact he has been through so much.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RueRue 06-08-14
    RueRue 06-08-14

    RueRue

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    156
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    "Worth all the (5) Star reviews"
    Would you consider the audio edition of All the Light We Cannot See to be better than the print version?

    Not better, but equally beautiful. I alternated reading and listening. The narrator did a good job without overacting. The story is also very suspenseful.


    What other book might you compare All the Light We Cannot See to and why?

    I would compare it ( loosely) to "Beautiful Ruins".


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It's a long book and not one to rush through. The chapters are short, the narratives moves between time periods and characters, and it is book that requires attention to see how even small events connect and build toward a larger picture.


    Any additional comments?

    In spite of the length, I was sad to finish the story and say goodbye to the characters.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea 06-19-14
    Andrea 06-19-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exquisite"
    Would you consider the audio edition of All the Light We Cannot See to be better than the print version?

    The audio version is beautifully performed. I have not read the book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of All the Light We Cannot See?

    There are many many memorable moments. This is a book that I will savor over and over again and I rate it in my top ten books of all time.


    Which character – as performed by Zach Appelman – was your favorite?

    Marie-Laure


    Who was the most memorable character of All the Light We Cannot See and why?

    Marie-Laure


    Any additional comments?

    Anthony Doerr's novel shimmers with beauty.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-04-14
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-04-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Overly long and repetitious"

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Omaha, NE, United States 05-12-14
    Kelly Omaha, NE, United States 05-12-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bad reviewers must be jealous"

    The only reason I can think that someone would give this beautiful book a poor review is that they're jealous that they didn't write it. Do they not like the narrator? Zach is great, but honestly Kermit the Frog could read it to me and I would still listen. Get this book and tell all your friends. (But, don't tell your friends that you listened to it because then they'll get all self-righteous about how they could never listen because they just love to hold a book in their hands and they'll judge you and they'll correct you in public if you mention that you "read" a book when you really listened to a book.)

    132 of 157 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. L. Thompson Oxford, MS 07-13-14
    G. L. Thompson Oxford, MS 07-13-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lose yourself in this one!"
    Where does All the Light We Cannot See rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the top 2 or 3.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of All the Light We Cannot See?

    There are so many. It is the author's skills taking you away and making you live the story. So we'll written and so we'll narrated. A home run all around.


    Have you listened to any of Zach Appelman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but I am now looking for more.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trustme CO 06-19-14
    Trustme CO 06-19-14 Member Since 2004

    notapundit

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Wonderful Book Deserving a Wide Audience!"

    This book combines vivid characterization with a gripping plot, is beautifully written and it's a thought provoking novel of ideas, a combination that you don't run into very often these days.

    The narrator has a good sense of the material. His natural reading pace is a bit slow for my taste. But, I habitually listen to books at 1.25X -1.5x speed, and it sounded fine at that pace, so that wasn't an issue for me. One of the best books I have listened to for quite a while. Highly recommended!

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Molly-o Seattle 07-14-14
    Molly-o Seattle 07-14-14 Member Since 2007

    English major. Love to read

    HELPFUL VOTES
    352
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    "I've been waiting for this book all spring!"

    While I have had some good reads this spring, nothing compares to the joy I have experienced in reading this beautifully written book. One of the first things I thought of when I finished it is that I have to start all over again sometime so I can stop thinking about the content and just bask in its exquisite language and imagery.

    I have read numerous books about World War II and the ones I have liked will stay in my memory for a long time. I have not listened to one as good as The Book Thief until this book, however - funny how they both center on a child's perspective. From the thoughtful characterization to the masterful unfolding of the plot, this is a book that cries out for you to download it right away.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MidwestGeek 07-25-14
    MidwestGeek 07-25-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nice story but events disjunctive and pacing slow"

    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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
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