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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

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (15661 )
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  •  
    MidwestGeek 07-25-14
    MidwestGeek 07-25-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    232
    ratings
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    96
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    Story
    "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.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-04-14
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-04-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "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.

    23 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-02-15
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-02-15 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better editing would have made it a 5 star for me"

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 11-23-14
    Jan 11-23-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I Couldn't See the Light Either"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 08-08-14
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 08-08-14 Member Since 2011

    Joel Szerlip

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliantly Written, Just Not For Me"

    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.

    23 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 06-01-14
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 06-01-14 Member Since 2010

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Solid book, solid narration."

    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.

    35 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Call Me Crazy But... Rogers Park, IL 06-14-14
    Call Me Crazy But... Rogers Park, IL 06-14-14 Member Since 2015

    I Read Memoirs

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "extraordinary book and reading!"
    Would you listen to All the Light We Cannot See again? Why?

    Yes. Every sentence of this book is a gem and deserves to be savored.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characters gripped me from the start. The plot carried me forward --as well as the flowing prose.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    don't have one


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

    The blind girl, of course.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    6 of 7 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
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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.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Buneary Thomas 07-23-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I yoyo back and forth between enjoying and bored"
    Would you listen to All the Light We Cannot See again? Why?

    Probably not. I'm not a huge fan of war related stories I love the bits about Marie-Laure and her father and the diamond, I also enjoy the parts about Werner and fixing radios but when it comes to Hitler youth and military things I feel the drool dripping out the side of my mouth in boredom.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Marie-Laure starting out seeing and going blind and the journey she goes through learning to read braille and the miniature model of the town(s) her father builds her.


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

    Werner


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

    No it is far to long to listen to in one sitting! I have been enjoying it on my drive to and from work.


    Any additional comments?

    I just yoyo back and forth between being really interested in this book and then very disenchanted and bored. I don't know if it's my dislike for military related topics or the book it's self. I feel it is very well written, and I like the performance by Zach Appelman.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    merrill overturf 05-01-15 Member Since 2010

    oturf

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well done all around"
    Where does All the Light We Cannot See rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's hard to write a book from adolescent point of view during the war. I think he did a nice job of showing both sides of the war -- both the German citizens and those they were wreaking terror upon.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The perseverance of the two main characters and the resolution of the story seemed spot on.


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

    Way too long for that but walked the dog a bit longer than usual while listening.


    Any additional comments?

    You may have to listen at 1.25x for this -- the spaces the narrator leaves for timing made the blue tooth stop.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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