Play Book Tag discussion

All the Light We Cannot See
This topic is about All the Light We Cannot See
33 views
Archive: Other Books > All the LIght We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - 5 stars

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Joy D | 4614 comments All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - 5 stars

One of the best books I’ve read this year, All the Light We Cannot See is a coming of age work of historical fiction told through the interwoven stories a blind French girl, Marie Laure, and German boy, Werner, during WWII. The timeline moves forward and backward as we go from the siege of St.-Malo in August 1944 to Paris in 1940 where we meet Marie Laure and her father to a German orphanage in the 1930’s where we meet Werner and his sister. I listened to the audio version of this book on a trip, and continued afterward, since it comprises 13 discs.

The book provides a strong sense of time and place. It is episodic and beautifully written using descriptive, poetic, and evocative language. It is easy to picture the scenes, both in nature and in the cities. It is strongly historical in nature, giving a sense of the chaos during the fall of Paris and the struggles during the occupation of France. It shows how the French resistance came together organically, through people trying to figure out what they could do to help. It also provides a good idea of how the state propaganda machine turned young German boys into military pawns. A mystery element is included, which keeps it engaging and ties elements of the story together.

The author is adept at depicting relationships, such as those of Werner to his sister, his best friend, and his radio unit leader. The characters were well drawn and evolve over time. We come to care about the protagonists, though the author did not shy away from including zealous Nazis and less savory characters. Content warnings include war-related violence, murder, and rape. Recommended to book clubs, and readers that enjoy historical fiction or the history of WWII.

I thought the narrator of the audio book, Zach Appelman, did an excellent job of pronouncing proper names and place names in German, French, and English. His tone was low key and appropriate to the story. His narration made it easy to follow the plot.

This book has it all: a masterfully crafted plot, memorable characters, stellar writing, creative execution, and enough ambiguity to generate interesting discussions. It is well-deserving of its accolades.

Link to my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Jason Oliver | 2098 comments Wonderful book. I loved this. (view spoiler)

I recommend this book to everyone.


Susie | 4488 comments Another person who loved it here.


KateNZ | 2667 comments Lovely review. I’m one of the few who didn’t particularly like the book (bits of it were gorgeous and the overall story was excellent but it ended up a regretful ‘meh’ and 3 stars) - but your review makes me wish all over again that I’d liked it more!


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6396 comments I also listened to the audio, and agree he did a great job.


Joanne (joabroda1) | 8425 comments Also one of my favorites thus year. Nice review!


Jgrace | 3109 comments I read mostly historical fiction and I have around 150 WW2 books on my read shelf, which I'm sure isn't all of them. I would say that All the Light and A Thread of Grace were the two best of the lot.
Doerr has two prize winning short story collections
The Shell Collector and Memory Wall. I still think about stories in both of those collections.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved this book, so much I will likely read it again in the future. I'm so glad you loved it. Great review!


Joy D | 4614 comments Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

Jgrace, I have A Thread of Grace on my TBR, so I'll have to get to it sooner than later.

I should have mentioned in my review that I really enjoyed the symbolism and recurring themes. I view it as a sign of a writer that takes the story to more than one level. One can read it and enjoy it on the surface, but also look into deeper meanings if so inclined.


Jason Oliver | 2098 comments Joy, if you don't mind, expound on those themes and symbolism. What stood out to the most?


Elise (ellinou) Lovely review! I also loved the book! And thanks for the rec for A Thread of Grace, JGrace, I'll add it to my TBR.


Hahtoolah | 439 comments I must be in the minority on this book. I found it very frustrating to have chapters only a few pages long.


message 13: by Joy D (last edited Jul 06, 2018 01:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy D | 4614 comments Jason wrote: "Joy, if you don't mind, expound on those themes and symbolism. What stood out to the most?"

One of the most prominent is in the title. I was impressed by the way the author gave each character his or her own visual impairment, and a light he could not see. The most obvious, of course, is the blind girl, Marie Laure, who literally cannot see but she retains an essence of inner light and integrity. Werner has good physical eyesight, but he cannot (at first) see the true nature of the Nazi regime. Uncle Etienne cannot see and enjoy the outside world due to his agoraphobia from WWI, and is confined to his house by his own choice. Only when he faces a crisis does he emerge, and eventually rejoins the world (a very positive aspect of the story and related to Marie Laure - I don't want to give too much away but I really enjoyed Etienne's metamorphosis).

Another is radio waves. They tie everything together without a physical bond, similar to how all of life can be viewed as interconnected. They tie Marie Laure and Werner together, Etienne and the outside world, and Etienne to the memory of his brother.

I thought the shells/molusks of the grotto symbolize the adaptation to new homes and safety. The grotto was a haven of safety.

The sea of flames is another, having meaning assigned to a "chunk of carbon" - people are seeking it and would go to extremes to possess. War can be viewed as "a sea of flames" or it could represent material value vs. spiritual value. I'm sure there are many interpretations. These are just my rough impromptu musings.

Now I see why I didn't include these thoughts in my review. I'd be writing a book! :-)


Karin | 7466 comments Joy D wrote: "All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - 5 stars

One of the best books I’ve read this year, All the Light We Cannot See is a coming of age work of historical ..."


It was my fictional highlight the year I read it--5 stars and 3 hearts. Actually, I listened to the audiobook which is well done and fits the book beautifully.


Jgrace | 3109 comments I should have mentioned in my review that I really enjoyed the symbolism and recurring themes. I view it as a sign of a writer that takes the story to more than one level. One can read it and enjoy it on the surface, but also look into deeper meanings if so inclined

So true, you're making me want to read it again.


Jason Oliver | 2098 comments Wonderful things you picked up on Joy. I grabbed some but missed others that you found. I found the mullosks dry to read about but you bright new light to it. The Light I could not see. ;)


Joanne (joabroda1) | 8425 comments Joy D wrote: "Jason wrote: "Joy, if you don't mind, expound on those themes and symbolism. a lot of What stood out to the most?"

One of the most prominent is in the title. I was impressed by the way the author gave each..."


Indeed, you picked up a lot of symbolism's
that I missed! Especially with the radio waves-thanks for your thoughts!


back to top