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All the Light We Cannot See | [Anthony Doerr]

All the Light We Cannot See

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighbourhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

National Book Award Finalist

New York Times Bestseller

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel 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, from the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr.

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

©2014 Anthony Doerr (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

What the Critics Say

“This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece … Doerr's writing and imagery are stunning. It's been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion.” (Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone)
All the Light We Cannot See is a dazzling, epic work of fiction. Anthony Doerr writes beautifully about the mythic and the intimate, about snails on beaches and armies on the move, about fate and love and history and those breathless, unbearable moments when they all come crashing together.” (Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins)
“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 … 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)
“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 … A compelling and uplifting novel.” (M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans)
“[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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (47 )
5 star
 (22)
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3 star
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4.2 (38 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Story
4.3 (35 )
5 star
 (16)
4 star
 (16)
3 star
 (2)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Catherine Nicholas 04-19-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    Overall
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    Story
    "Excellent rendering of emotional history of war"

    I rate this book excellent because it made me feel empathy for the individuals on both sides and let's us see that not only the horrors of war itself are devastating but how it affects people's future. And shows human strengths as well

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 01-11-15
    Andrew 01-11-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent read"


    Really well written and read.
    Interesting book covering an often written about time in history but through interesting and unusual lens.
    I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adele 12-23-14
    Adele 12-23-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    99
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mispronunciation sure, but buy it anyway!"

    All the Light We Cannot See is a well balanced gem of a book - beautifully written descriptions and dialogue. Most of all I loved the diverse and complex relationships. The humanity of all the characters was deftly captured, and the many and varied forms of love.
    A few words were noticeably mispronounced and it was a little disruptive when that happened. I got the impression that the reader was aware of some of them opted to persist rather than introduce inconsistency. Ideally those mistakes should have been spotted and corrected before publishing. However, aside from these relatively infrequent glitches I loved the narration - it was unobtrusive, understated and sensitive. I was totally engaged and had no difficulty distinguishing one character from another and certainly experienced a wide range of emotions along with the characters.
    I would encourage anyone who loves really good literature to listen to this beautiful story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-3 of 3 results
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  • A User
    10/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story, woeful narration"
    Would you listen to All the Light We Cannot See again? Why?

    No, the narrator makes too many jarring errors of pronunciation.


    What didn’t you like about Julie Teal’s performance?

    Too many mispronunciations. For example, navy - in a passage describing how huge trees were cut down to make masts for ships - the French & British navies become "navvies". Seriously - why didn't someone stop her? So many mistakes I found myself calling out the correction "Not 'straff' - STRAFE!" Just hope I didn't do it on the train.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Brendan Hayes
    7/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful, absolutely wonderful"
    Where does All the Light We Cannot See rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's up in the top five. My book club - I'm 7 years in this book club....... - voted it the best book we had ever read..... Now!


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

    I suppose "The Girl who Dropped from the Sky" covered a similar epoch.


    What does Julie Teal bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    i'm a convert to audiobooks because of the acting/voicing talents of the narrators/actors/actresses. It's like the difference between a b/w and 3D colour movie for me. The narrator is a huge contributor to the enjoyment of the book.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Historical Fiction at its very best


    Any additional comments?

    Now I'll have to ensure I visit St-Malo sometime soon in the future, to see the actual geography being writing about. I wonder does no.4 Rue Voberelle exist....???? Will I be able to resist walking the beach and looking in the ocean for the sea of Flames.......

    I want to thank Anthony Doerr for his talent. I searched the internet for a way to contact him to personally thank him for this book..no luck...so I hope he gets to read my thanks here.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Carol
    10/28/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Page turner, but overwritten."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes, oh indeed yes! Why can't some Readers be bothered to check basic pronunciation in foreign languages? It is so sloppy and unprofessional. Sometimes a Reader gives a consummate performance and one is left breathless with admiration for their mastery of different voices, for their fluency and, above all, for their managing to pronounce names and words from other countries and their languages correctly. But this is not the case with Julie Teal. Her ignorance is astounding. Surely she has heard the word 'Führer' pronounced elsewhere? Or commonplace French forenames such as Etienne? If not, then the producer, or someone should take the trouble to correct her, or she should take the trouble to find out. It can absolutely ruin a book and is thoroughly irritating.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Anthony Doerr? Why or why not?

    Perhaps, as the story is quite good, though pretty trite at times, and definitely overwritten. It is superfluous to give two or even three adjectives to qualify so many of the nouns. 'Less is more' sometimes!


    What didn’t you like about Julie Teal’s performance?

    Her pronunciation above all. However, it wasn't her fault that the short, choppy style in places makes it very hard to carry the story along with any fluidity. But her voice and register range is very limited and she makes far too little differentiation between some of the main characters' voices.


    Did All the Light We Cannot See inspire you to do anything?

    No!


    Any additional comments?

    I did enjoy some of the incidental detail woven around gemmology, radio transmitters and receivers, the works of Jules Verne and so forth.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Heloise
    Canberra, Australia
    9/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enthralling story"
    What made the experience of listening to All the Light We Cannot See the most enjoyable?

    I would give the narrator 9/10 for her reading of this novel. There were a couple of strange pronunciations (mitochondria is one I remember) but overall very good.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characters, they were wonderful. Loved the relationship between Marie-Laure, her father, Uncle Etiennne and the housekeeper. Werner was well drawn, and I really gained a sense of his inner conflict, especially in his relationship with his friend Frederick at the Reich training school. Good research by the author.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    None in particular, there were so many.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Marie-Laure's experiences in the attic of the house towards the end of the siege of Saint-Malo


    Any additional comments?

    Beautifully written, lyrical prose by a very talented writer.I have only given the story 4 stars because of the last few chapters and the ending. I didn't like the rapid transition to the present day, felt it quite spoiled the whole ambience of the novel.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • James
    Chester, United Kingdom
    2/6/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Despite the narrator"

    Technically exquisite writing - esp from the close pov of the blind girl - and the research a little too heavy to always convince as the characters' knowledge and not the writer unable to resist sharing his long hours in the library, but a story both epic and intimate, sustained and sincere, if sentimental. The narrator is almost comically inadequate. That she struggles with French and German words I can understand - but English, too? Navvies, noted in a review above, is a favourite, but her pronunciation of 'extravagance' is the best, and may outlast the memory of the book itself for me. Wasn't anybody at the recording listening to her? These errors were so numerous I decided to make them added pleasures, but, yes, the writer and the readers deserve better.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • yvonne tomlin
    1/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A well told Story"

    This book more than met my expectations. The story was very moving and extremely well told. I would recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Greenie
    Notts, UK
    11/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An excellent, well researched novel"

    This has to be my all time favourite buy from Audible, excellently written with almost peotic prose and well drawn characters. It centres around a young girl, Maire-Laure, who has a degenerative eye condition, and a young German boy, Werner, who are both in occupied France during WW2. The story floats backwards and forwards, starting from the siege of St Malo and ending in 1974, interweaving the lives of Marie-Laura and Werner and dragging you into a world of Jules Verne, radios and airwaves. Absolutely beautiful, poignant and one that stays with you. I don`t mind admitting I actually put off listening to the last hour of it because I seriously did not want it to end!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Winifred Cockerill
    UK
    4/21/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "should have been a great ... what happened ?"

    I was very disappointed! it felt like another author had come in and fished it way before time to get it to print . the ending like the demise of one of the main characters was rushed and not in keeping with the rest of the book !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jenn's Penn
    3/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A brilliant, original novel of world war 2."

    A memorable novel of this terrible time in Europe giving a fresh view of both sides of the conflict and it's aftermath. Beautifully, exquisitely written and well read with suitable pace and feeling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anne
    Aberdeen, United Kingdom
    3/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I give it five"
    Where does All the Light We Cannot See rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I'm a bit of an audio book junkie and have listened to many many books over two decades. I'd say that this is in my top 12. It is an extraordinary novel. Well worth the hype.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked how two stories ran parallel and then towards the end the main characters crossed paths. Our hero learned the lesson of doing things and making decisions based not on who is right but rather what is right. Late in the day he redeemed himself and made a values led decision.


    What about Julie Teal’s performance did you like?

    Her diction. And her pacing and pausing.


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

    Yes and I got terribly engrossed in the lives of the characters. In a similar vein to Poisonwoodwood Bible, Alone in Berlin, People of the Book, Wilkie Collin's No Name and John Hersey's White Lotus (and many others)- I didn't want this novel to end.


    Any additional comments?

    Thank you Audible and thank you Ms Teal and above all thank you Mr Doerr.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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