All the Light We Cannot See
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All the Light We Cannot See

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  18,959 ratings  ·  3,223 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 531 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Scribner
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Lizzie That's a good question. I believe it was the societal expectation for respectable young men in that time. Their money and connections could…moreThat's a good question. I believe it was the societal expectation for respectable young men in that time. Their money and connections could undoubtably ensure that they stay off the front lines and become officers. Furthermore, he was under pressure to follow in his father's footsteps as a high-ranking soldier. Finally, I don't think his mother was completely aware how much difficulty Frederick was having with his peers; he would never have disclosed those details out of his obvious deep-seated desire not to disappoint his family. Frederick felt a strong sense of duty to his parents; that's why he told Werner that his life was not his own. (less)
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Community Reviews

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I always thought, or imagined, that there were these invisible lines trembling in our wake, outlining our trajectories through life, throbbing with electric energy. Lines that sometimes cross one other, or follow in parallel ellipses without ever touching, or meet up for one brief moment and then part. A universe of lines crisscrossing in the void.

Anthony Doerr's astonishing new novel "All The Light We Cannot See" follows the complex arcs of two such invisible lines through the lives of Werner P...more

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

This book has the most hauntingly beautiful prose I've ever read. It is brimming with rich details that fill all five senses simultaneously. It is full of beautiful metaphors that paint gorgeous images. I didn't want this book to end, but I couldn't put it down.

"In August 1944 the historic walled city of Saint-Malo, the brightest jewel of the Emerald Coast of Brittany, France was almost destroyed by fire....Of the 865 buildings within the walls, only...more
Jul 20, 2014 Louisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I couldn’t help but think that Steven Spielberg would dearly love to get his hands on this one. Together with John Williams they can both create cinema magic and hopefully win a handful of Oscars and it is that very image that nearly put me off while I was in the midst of reading this book.
Anthony Doerr sure knows how to tell a good yarn. This narrative holds so many possibilities but mostly it’s about a question that looms largely over each character’s head:

“Is it right to do something only bec...more
Jenna  *Puddin Tame*
It has been awhile since I have found a book that I wanted to read slowly so that I could soak in every detail in hopes that the last page seems to never come.

When reading the synopsis of this novel, I never imagined that I would feel so connected to a book where one of the main characters is blind and the other a brilliant young German orphan who was chosen to attend a brutal military academy under Hitler's power using his innate engineering skills.

This novel was so much more than the above st...more
Diane S.
For me, this was a very special read. I feel like I have been on a long gut-wrenching journey, and in a way I have, traveling with two young children, one in Berlin and one in Paris and follow them as they grow-up. There are poignant moments, downright sad moments, moments that made me smile and moments that made me so very angry. Werner in Berlin is a curious child, a child with the talent for putting things together, like radios, he and his sister Jutta live in an orphanage. Marie-Laure, a bli...more
I enjoyed this novel by Anthony Doerr and yet when I was nearing the end I couldn't help feel a a sense of relief to have finished the book.

I enjoy historical fiction and really looked forward to this novel by Anthony Doerr as it was set in a time frame that that really interests me. Because I read quite a lot of novels set around World War Two I love the fact that the author took a a slightly different path with his storytelling and that is what drew me to this novel.

I loved the characters of M...more
Why write a review if I am such an atypical reader?

I will keep this brief since I feel most readers will not react as I have, but isn’t it important that all views are voiced?

All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book more confusing. I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the...more
What I loved most about this book was all the light that I did see. There is so much here that captivated me - from the beautiful writing to the strong, caring characters to the loving relationships and the way people touched each other's lives during the trying times of WW II.

Parallel stories are told in alternating chapters of Marie Laure, a teenage French girl who has been blind since the age of six and Werner, an intelligent, perceptive and sensitive German orphan who learns to fix radios an...more
A wonderfully moving and lyrical account of two teenagers coming of age on opposite sides of the conflict during World War 2. One is a blind girl, Marie-Laure, living in Paris at the beginning in 1940 and then, before the German occupation, moving with her father to the walled Brittany town of Saint-Malo. The other main character is Werner, an orphan in a German industrial and mining town whose talent in fixing radios gets him sent to an elite training academy. The narrative alternates chapters...more
Anthony Doerr has now put his own stamp on the World War II novel with this story of the lives of two children of wartime: young Werner, a German orphan with dreams of mastering the world of science, and the even younger Parisian girl Marie-Laure, who becomes blind as a child and then must learn an entirely new life. Both then become wrapped up in the mechanism of war.

Doerr's prose is impeccable, precisely describing his characters, the settings whether they be in Paris, the French coast in St M...more
Rebecca Foster
Just as the lovely walled city of St. Malo stands out from the Brittany coast in France, this radiant novel distinguishes itself from a sea of World War II fiction. Marie-Laure LeBlanc, whose father is master of the locks at Paris’s Museum of Natural History, has been blind from age six but knows her surroundings perfectly, even after they move to St. Malo to shelter with her great-uncle Etienne, a hermitic snail expert. Meanwhile, in a mining town in Germany, a white-haired orphan boy named Wer...more
A coming. Have to ponder this a bit. It was a 5 until the last 50 pages....not sure I am being fair here. Very, very good book.

UPDATED: I received an advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley and Scribner. Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner. This review, however, is based on the hardcover version.

I have read this book twice now. The first time, the author had me in the palm of his hand. I was totally absorbed in the book and the flow and the pace of how the stories of Marie-Lau...more
Dec 25, 2013 Stuart added it
The audience for literary fiction began to decline in the 1980s. Women still read it, but men mostly have abandoned the genre. Why? No one knows really, but my guess is that sometime around 1980 it became unfashionable for men to admit they had inner lives. Art moved from something important in men's lives to someone men played golf with. When half your potential audience vanishes, it's hard to make a living as a writer. Bestsellers in literary fiction are now rare (they were common through the...more
This is a book that could easily have failed if it lived by plot alone. The story it tells feels familiar and a touch melodramatic -- blind French girl, smart German orphan boy, a priceless diamond, a besieged medieval town on the Atlantic coast. Yet Anthony Doerr's 'All the Light We Cannot See' avoids most of the traps of overt and trite sentimentality by taking its time to reveal it's delicate architecture of connections -- radio broadcasts, the power and life of the natural world, Jules Verne...more
I died a thousand times while reading this book. It is mysterious, heart-breaking and just brilliantly beautiful. It deserves all the stars.
I will not be able to do justice to this beautiful, thoughtful, spirited WWII novel in my review. Doerr has created something exquisite in the way he crafts his characters and brings the war to life.

Because the main characters, Marie Laure and Werner are both so interested in the changing world, we are too. Through their eyes we explore science, radio, friendship and patriotism. Doerr even makes snails interesting! Marie Laure's observations and strength of character are made all the more inter...more
I requested this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for this book.

Once you start to read this book, you won't be able to put it down.

This is the story of a French six-years old Marie Laure and a German orphan boy Werner who lived in different countries but their lives will become entwined during World War II.

Marie Laure lives in Paris where his father works at the Museum of Natural History. Once she became blind, her father built a city miniature made of wood...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
If you love World War II novels set in Europe, you won't want to miss this one. If you think you've had enough of World War II novels, you might want to give it a shot anyway, because this one has its own particular charm and a plot with some impressive originality.

switterbug (Betsey)
This is not that WW II book where all the Germans are monsters or menacing racists and the Allies are unassailable saviors. In fact, much of this novel takes place in Saint-Malo in Brittany, a walled city that was nearly wiped out by American bombs in 1945. War has its own logic and agenda, and casts a long shadow over people just trying to survive and protect the ones they love. War has no furlough for the civilians.

“Now it seems there are only shadows and silence. Silence is the fruit of the o...more
It was amazing.
I'm sure this is going to mark me as a literary dud, but for all the brilliant reviews of this book? I couldn't really get into it.

The book revolves around Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives with her father. Her father is the locksmith at the Paris Museum of Natural History, and Marie is raised wholly in the museum and at home. Marie has a semi-idyllic childhood until the Nazi's invade Paris and she and her father have to flee to another city, where a reclusive uncle lives. Unknown to Marie, he...more
This was a captivating read of two stories told simultaneously during the 2nd world war. Both stories weave through time - Marie Laure, a french blind girl who lives with her father, and Werner, a German orphan boy, who is sent to the war for his outstanding radio transmitter skills. They both represent 2 sides of the war and how their lives are altered until the parallel stories merge into one with the Sea of Flames stone mystery at the core. The writing is phenomenal.....detailed descriptions...more
This was a great read. Like the Jules Verne novel being read by the young heroine, the story whisks you away to a different world; just like those magic days in childhood of being transported by a story.
Anthony Doerr says of the title that “It’s… a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II — that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see. Ultimately, the title is intendedas a suggestion that we...more
I've pretty much given up rating books, and writing much about them. But I can't help myself with this one. I found it very very moving, beautifully written. Thank you, Mr. Doerr.
*Updated 7/23/14*

Over the course of the two weeks I spent reading All the Light We Cannot See, I couldn't shake the notion that I was immersed in something truly great, a remarkable feat in storytelling and language.

The novel has many of the signature traits & themes of an Anthony Doerr story: man's interchangeably intimate and contentious relationship with nature, exquisite literal and metaphorical descriptions of said nature, a blind protagonist who has a fascination with shells, and love...more
When Anthony Doerr wrote Memory Walls – a daringly original collection of short stories – three years ago, he had this to say about his work: “This is not my Big Novel; it’s just a novella. and I’m going to take whatever risks I want to with it.”

All The Light We Cannot See is Mr. Doerr’s Big Novel – in many ways. It’s lengthy, for one thing – more than 530 pages. It’s packed with strong themes, original characters and non-stop action. And it has “best seller” stamped all over it.

The action take...more

I received this book from Bookworld as part of their Reader Rewards program

This review is also on my blog

In a nutshell: All the Light We Cannot See is a captivating and beautifully written novel which illuminates the impact of war on people, and the possibility of lightness in dark times.

The story follows two children throughout the Second World War, the perspective of each chapter shifting between the two. While their paths differed, they possessed many similarities. In a sense, they were like...more
A beautifully written work of historical fiction with chapters alternating between Marie -Laure a young blind French girl who flees occupied Paris with her father , a key master of the Natural Museum of history, and Werner a German orphan whose interest inspired tinkering with an old radio lend him technical skills which plummet him headlong into a Hiltler Youth group, and lead him directly into the heart of the war. Although there is much more to the story (a true page turner) for me the underl...more
This was utterly fantastic!!! I slowed down reading as I neared the end only because I didn't want it to be over!!! Wonderfully created characters that will stay with me for a long time!!!
Chris Blocker
Stories centered around the second World War have become trite. Yeah, I said it, and that probably makes me an insensitive jerk in some way. But really, the story of WWII has been so rehashed and watered down that it is a huge surprise when an author paints the story in a different light than we've come to expect. Maybe that's not entirely true. There are many great accounts of WWII with only small amounts of propaganda sprinkled in. But there are so many Hollywood-style stories where the German...more
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Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Pr...more
More about Anthony Doerr...
The Shell Collector: Stories Memory Wall Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World About Grace The Snake Handler (short story)

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“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” 81 likes
“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.” 33 likes
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