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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

All The Light We Cannot See


In All The Light We Cannot see Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr has written a wonderful story 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.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as a lockmaster.  When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo.  With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. Gorgeously written and in accurate detail Doerr connects the lives of the two young people showing against all odds how people can be good to one another in horrible circumstances.  

The author skillfully creates a web of ties between the two protagonists before they even have met. St. Malo is a beautiful setting for the story. Occupied by German forces, under siege by Allied bombers, it heads inexorably to a stunning climax. The book is in  short but lyrical chapters which make it readily easy to read and connect the various parts.

 The walled Breton city of Saint-Malo is a wonderfully picturesque and apt setting for the most dramatic part of Mr. Doerr’s story. Saint-Malo was occupied by German forces and under siege by the Allied bombers that destroyed much of it before the war was over.   To enjoy the book it didn’t hurt either that I had promised Mrs. T. a trip to France when she retired. And yes we spent some time in St. Malo.  All the Light We Cannot See is a terrific book. I liked it a lot….:)


With our friends Steve and Jewel an evening meal at a sidewalk café in St. Malo
And a walk thru the walled city
 
 

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@Barrie Summy

20 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

This sounds like a good one. I may have read about the plot somewhere else to as it sounds familiar.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My husband liked it a lot too. Hope to get to it soon.

Barrie said...

Loved the photos, Ray!!! This book is in my TBR pile. I will move it up. It sounds terrific. Thanks for reviewing!

amanda | wildly simple said...

I've had numerous recommendations to read this book.
Glad to have your praise added to the reasons why it's at the top of my list to get my hands on!

Out on the prairie said...

Having visited the town gives you a strong visual while reading it.

Bee said...

I thought it was terrific, too.
Very jealous that you have been to St. Malo!

Sarah Laurence said...

I knew you'd love this book as much as I did. Marvelous summary of my favorite novel from last year! I'm envious of your visit St. Malo. Thanks for sharing your photos.

Sarah Laurence said...

My husband says our daughter is only 40 miles from St. Malo. She's WWOOFing on a horse farm in Brittany during her gap term. It might crowd her to visit now, but maybe next year we can plan a trip. My husband loved the book too. I should download it to my daughter's Kindle.

NCmountainwoman said...

For some reason, I resisted reading this for quite a while. I would pick it up at our local bookstore and put it back. Not until our book club made it a selection did I finally read it. I LOVED IT! The research was diligent and the parallel stories fascinating. Definitely worthy of the Pulitzer. I would love to visit St. Malo.

Red said...

You finished that eview with a flourish with your photo in St. Malo.

Lin said...

Like NCmountainwoman, I have resisted this book. The description sounds contrived. I guess I shall have to give this one a try.

Valerie said...

I've heard about this book... in fact I think Husband ordered it quite recently. Must check it out.

Lovely to see St.Malo pics... I remember it well.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the review. I will be putting this one in my To Read pile. I enjoyed seeing your photos of
St Malo.

Carla from The River said...

Sounds like a good one.
I am reading All Quiet on the Western Front right now.
Carla

Shammickite said...

This is already on my "to read when I get the chance" list.

Arkansas Patti said...

What a great review. How neat that you have visited the town. I have been thinking about this book since I heard it was one our President also read and enjoyed.

Bubba Muntzer said...

Speaking of lyrical, your writing in this review is poetic. You're a maestro when you want to be, with the way you constructed some of those sentences -- you're just showing off, aren't you? Ah but I imagine you'll entice a few more people to read by it.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Isn't it fun when you know the cities whereof they write?!
I do enjoy historical fiction!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I found this to be a lovely book also. I was pleased when Doerr won the Pulitzer as I found it most worthy of that honor.

amanda | wildly simple said...

Popping back in to say that I was #24 in queue waiting for this one from the library, so it felt like Christmas when the call came that it was available in only less than a week!
I read All the Light We Cannot See cover to cover in just over 24 hours. (very little else was accomplished!) The best book of my reading year, and joining a handful of most powerful on my all time list. A great work of writing.
I'd love to visit St. Malo.