The epic new novel, set during WW2, from Sunday Times Short Story Prize-winner 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 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.
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
“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)
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"Wonderful, absolutely wonderful"
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!
I suppose "The Girl who Dropped from the Sky" covered a similar epoch.
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.
Historical Fiction at its very best
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.
"Great story, woeful narration"
No, the narrator makes too many jarring errors of pronunciation.
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.
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.
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.
None in particular, there were so many.
Marie-Laure's experiences in the attic of the house towards the end of the siege of Saint-Malo
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.
"Page turner, but overwritten."
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.
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!
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.
I did enjoy some of the incidental detail woven around gemmology, radio transmitters and receivers, the works of Jules Verne and so forth.
"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!!
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