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
“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)
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.
That it was told from perspective of 2 individuals, on opposing sides of the war.
The fleeting touch of romance toward the end.
The narration transfixed me. I thought it was excellent.
Diamond sparkles in the dark.
One of the best novels I've listened to.
Among the best I have purchased from Audible (up there with the likes of 'Heft', 'The Life We Bury', 'The Goldfinch', Wally Lamb's books and so on). Pure listening pleasure from a very gifted writer and a very talented narrator. Didn't want this one to end.
Probably the best fiction I've listened to in a year. Beautifully written and read. So many novels have been written over the years about WWII but this one is a little different. Every character is special and 'fits' into the story. Thought provoking and special.
Too rambling for my taste and with little narrative reason behind some of the scenarios (if that makes sense)...such as the heroine's blindness.
Avid listener - when I drive, do home chores, lie in the hammock under the tree...
Beautifully and sensitively written, the characters draw you in. I could not stop listening...
In a year of good reads, this book might well be my favourite. Tightly plotted like a thriller, yet beautifully and poetically written, this world war II story of a blind French girl, a young German soldier and a rare diamond is spellbinding. Julie Teal's narration is perfect - just the right pace, and very nuanced. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
"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.
"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.
"THE WORST NARRATION I HAVE HEARD BY A PROFESSIONAL"
Great novel - almost a masterpiece but no one should have to suffer this narration.
Julie Teal's mispronunciations: 'Pistol Packing Maar Maar' - hilarious. As if read by a gawky public schoolgirl. So many mistakes. Embarrassing. The producer was not fit for purpose. The talent was miscast. And she clearly DIDN'T PREPARE. She just turned up and read it. BADLY. 'd think twice about casting her again. JCA, take note.
It was an insult to the novel. Re-voice it. Julie Teal cannot do this type of narration.
All the above for the right reasons reading it ...and for the wrong reasons listening
I love this book. It is almost a masterpiece. But how can Anthony Doerr, his agent and his publisher have allowed this abysmal narration to be released. It is laughable at times and pitiful at others. I counted 11 mispronunciations in the first 90 minutes. What was poor Julie Teal's producer doing. Not listening to the recording, clearly. Absolutely awful. She's a great actor but - like quite a few TV actors - Anna Chancellor is another - dreadful as a VO and audio artist. So sad where there are some really great narrators out there who know how to do it. Please Please get rid of this version and get a competent performer to re-voice this. At least this shows that this kind of work is not easy. Too many sub-standard people are now muscling in on this. Audible is partly to blame. Please, install some quality control. You are important enough now to take a stand on behalf of your customers.
"Two sides to every story"
No. Although it is very well performed, and the act of listening to this time-shifting and disorientating novel relates very well to the experience of the story's blind heroin, who has to rely much more on her other senses (particularly touch and sound), I think this is a novel better read in print as the point of view changes rapidly from segment to segment (there are no 'chapters' as such) and it's easier to immerse yourself in the written word in this case: so much of the novel is interior thoughts rather than dialogue, which somehow feels more personal when read by yourself.
Any war literature - All Quiet on the Western Front for its German perspective, and even a touch of Anne Frank in the tale of Marie Laure as she is confined to the indoors for a large part of the novel, and is constantly in danger of discovery for her household's role in the Resistance. It has a touch of fantasy with the folklore surrounding the diamond, and it could also be viewed as the tale of an orphaned young girl during occupied France.
I fear I shouldn't say due to spoilers, but I really liked the way the time shifts gradually revealed missing details to the reader without losing any sense of the tension the characters experience.
I liked hearing Werner's interior thoughts, especially that he just wanted to stay in that moment and that place for a thousand years, knowing he would want nothing else.
At the beginning of the novel, I feared it would unfold like a Dan Brown - too much jarring American-english, impossible situations too heroically overcome - but the characterisation and themes are too intense for that to happen: the horrors of WW2 are always shocking and gut-wrenching to read about, and several incidents in this novel offer no exception (spoilers: the Vienna incident; Frederick, his Mother; Volkheimer's actions; Jutta and Fray Elena's horrific ordeal; Daniel leBlanc's pitifully optimistic letters to try to protect his daughter; all the loss of life), so it's no fluffy, escapist read.
"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.
"A well told Story"
This book more than met my expectations. The story was very moving and extremely well told. I would recommend it.
"Wonderful story. Narration a disappointment."
Jarring pronunciation of certain words. Such a shame. Otherwise very enjoyable. Come on Julie. You're reading a prizewinning book. You could have done much better than that.
"A moving, multi-layered story."
Excellent narration and a range of well-drawn characters in a poignant tale set in World War Two.
"Fabulous story, marred by distracting narration"
Haven't read the print version but many times wished I was reading it myself to avoid the many jolting mispronunciations by the narrator. They were very distracting and such a shame as it spoilt the flow of the story for me. So, no, I'd recommend the print version for that reason!
I loved the story, the characters and the vivid settings. The account of Werner's schooling at the hands of the Third Reich was really chilling, especially the victimisation of his friend Frederick.
No I don't think so. She has a lovely clear voice and I trusted her to tell the story, but there were just too many bizarre errors in pronunciation.
A wonderful book that deserved better attention to detail in the production of this audio version.
"Worth a listen..."
Intriguing start, doughy middle, captivating end. Clipped delivery.
Overall, an interesting listen but nothing to rave about
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