This epic tale of WWII culminating in the battle for Saint-Malo focuses on two unusual characters. Marie Laure is the blind daughter of the keeper of the keys for the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Werner is an exceptionally bright German orphan with a natural talent for science, in particular radios (a very helpful trait during wartime).
Marie Laure’s father constructs a model city of their neighborhood, every storm drain, doorway, and tree represented, to help his daughter feel her surroundings. Rumors of war become reality, German soldiers taking over France. Marie Laure and her father make a perilous journey, retreating to the home of their uncle in Saint-Malo.
Werner and his sister Jutta grow up in an orphanage. Werner’s ability to fix just about everything electronic, and his amazing ability with radios, soon comes to the attention of the German hierarchy, earning him a place in a prestigious school. Werner wants only to learn, to do something important with that knowledge, to be more than a poor orphan. He is seduced by the rare opportunity of attending the academy. As he tries to fit in, he finds himself a party to actions beyond his control that taint his soul. His sister Jutta is an early dissenter of the Third Reich. She listens to forbidden radio programs, learns of the atrocities being committed, and is appalled.
Werner and Marie Laure’s stories will converge in a way neither could have anticipated. I liked the way the story is told through the view so these two main protagonists. Werner is a likeable kid, bright and eager. The way the Nazi regime subsumes his good nature, is chilling. Marie Laure is an intrepid girl, forced by circumstances to bravery. This is an innovative, thought provoking, deeply moving way to tell the story of WWII.— Deon Stonehouse
May 2014 Indie Next List
“The French girl cannot see, but she can hear, feel, and explore the world around her like a budding naturalist. The German boy has no parents, but he teaches himself how coils of copper can receive lessons of love and learning. It's World War II, however, and the potential of thousands of children will be unrealized or thwarted. Will a mythical gemstone save them or unite them? Gorgeously written, Doerr's epic tale brings alive the beauty of two souls, their quest for learning, the turbulent times they cannot control, and the rock that mysteriously guides their fate.”
— Harriett Logan, Loganberry Books, Shaker Hts, OH
*Winner of the Pulitzer Prize* A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book* A National Book Award Finalist*
From Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller 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.
*Soon to be a Netflix limited series from the producers of Stranger Things*
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).
About the Author
Anthony Doerr is the author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Carnegie Medal, the Alex Award, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of the story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won five O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.
“Mesmerizing… Exquisite… The written equivalent of a Botticelli or a Michelangelo.” –The Portland Oregonian
“Stunning… Uplifting… Not to be missed.” –Entertainment Weekly
“Hauntingly beautiful.” –The New York Times
“Each and every person in this finely spun assemblage is distinct and true.” –USA Today
“Intertwines secret radio broadcasts, a cursed diamond, a soldier’s deepest doubts into a richly compelling package… Irresistible.” –People
“Gorgeous… Moves with the pace of a thriller.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Enthrallingly told, beautifully written.” —Amanda Vaill, The Washington Post
“Dazzling . . . Startlingly fresh.” —John Freeman, The Boston Globe
“Intricate . . . A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.” —The New Yorker
“Brims with scrupulous reverence for all forms of life. The invisible light of the title shines long after the last page.” —Tricia Springstubb, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Anthony Doerr writes beautifully. . . . A tour de force.” —Elizabeth Reid, Deseret News
“Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits.” —Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
“Perfectly captured . . . Doerr writes sentences that are clear-eyed, taut, sweetly lyrical.” —Josh Cook, Minneapolis StarTribune
“A beautiful, expansive tale . . . Ambitious and majestic.” —Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times
“Doerr is an exquisite stylist; his talents are on full display.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR
“The craftsmanship of Doerr’s book is rooted in his ability to inhabit the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner.” —Steve Novak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Doerr deftly guides All the Light We Cannot See toward the day Werner’s and Marie-Laure’s lives intersect during the bombing of Saint-Malo in what may be his best work to date.” —Yvonne Zipp, The Christian Science Monitor
“To open a book by Anthony Doerr is to open a door on humanity. . . . His sentences shimmer. . . . His paragraphs are luminous with bright, sparkling beauty.” —Martha Anne Toll, Washington Independent Review of Books
“Endlessly bold and equally delicate . . . An intricate miracle of invention, narrative verve, and deep research lightly held, but above all a miracle of humanity . . . Anthony Doerr’s novel celebrates—and also accomplishes—what only the finest art can: the power to create, reveal, and augment experience in all its horror and wonder, heartbreak and rapture.” —Shelf Awareness
“Intricately structured . . . All the Light We Cannot See is a work of art and of preservation.” —Jane Ciabattari, BBC
“Magnificent.” —Carmen Callil, The Guardian (UK)
“The whole enthralls.” —Good Housekeeping
“A revelation.” —Michael Magras, Bookreporter.com
“Doerr conjures up a vibrating, crackling world. . . . Intricately, beautifully crafted.” —Rebecca Kelley, Bustle.com
“There is so much in this book. It is difficult to convey the complexity, the detail, the beauty, and the brutality of this simple story.” —Carole O’Brien, Aspen Daily News
“Beautifully written . . . Soulful and addictive.” —Chris Stuckenschneider, The Missourian
“A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. . . . Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“If a book’s success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize–winner Doerr’s novel triumphs on both counts. Along the way, he convinces readers that new stories can still be told about this well-trod period, and that war—despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices—cannot negate the pleasures of the world.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece. . . . It 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 (starred review)