For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.
In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of
Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
This is the first book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due – Part 2. I read about All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr from Cely at Running Off The Reese’s. You can read her thoughts on the book here.
All The Light We Cannot See follows the stories of both Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a German orphan, from the beginning of WWII to the end, and where and how their paths meet in between.
I love novels like this, where there are two different people with their two different story lines and as their tales unfold you can feel those story lines growing ever closer, ever closer until they are bound to intertwine.
Marie-Laure was easy to like and really how could you not root for her? Even though she became blind, she didn’t let that stop her, still enjoying the fullness that life had to offer, constantly learning and exploring. I adored her Dad, the love and life he poured into her was beautiful. And Madame Manec and Uncle Etienne were equally likeable with their quirks, fierce love and loyalty. Werner was extremely likeable and again, you couldn’t help but root for him, this extremely clever orphan who was working so hard to look after those he cared about whilst still trying to stay true to himself. I admired his sister however I found her attitude hard because although I understood where she was coming from, life is not so black and white. Frau Elena, Frederick, and Volkheimer were all likeable characters that you wanted the best for.
This novel really takes you out of your comfort zone, and before you realise it, you’re torn because of the challenges that the characters face – that they are not necessarily solved by either being right or wrong. War is so conflicting and creates so many broken people. Really this story just dives under the surface of what war does however it’s enough to punch you in the gut and forever leave a mark.
The writing was intricate and creative, all five senses were immersed. It flowed well and was a steady pace.
Novels written in this style are becoming the vogue thing however I find a lot of them overdo it or aren’t very well written. This one isn’t like that at all, it’s what all those other novels are trying to be like.
Without spoiling the ending, I’ll just write this; Neville Chamberlain Quotes, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.”
I would definitely recommend this book if you like historical fiction, especially if it’s centered around WWII. It’s not an easy, escapist read however it’s so well written and life-changing.