Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
National Book Award Finalist
New York Times Bestseller
A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel 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, from the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr.
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 with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.
©2014 Anthony Doerr (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
“This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece … Doerr's writing and imagery are stunning. It's been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion.” (Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone)
“All the Light We Cannot See is a dazzling, epic work of fiction. Anthony Doerr writes beautifully about the mythic and the intimate, about snails on beaches and armies on the move, about fate and love and history and those breathless, unbearable moments when they all come crashing together.” (Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins)
“Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet. He knows about everything - radios, diamonds, mollusks, birds, flowers, locks, guns - but he also writes a line so beautiful, creates an image or scene so haunting, it makes you think forever differently about the big things - love, fear, cruelty, kindness, the countless facets of the human heart … Doerr's new novel is that novel, the one you savor, and ponder, and happily lose sleep over, then go around urging all your friends to read - now.” (J.R. Moehringer, author of Sutton and The Tender Bar)
“A tender exploration of this world's paradoxes; the beauty of the laws of nature and the terrible ends to which war subverts them; the frailty and the resilience of the human heart; the immutability of a moment and the healing power of time … A compelling and uplifting novel.” (M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans)
“[All the Light We Cannot See] 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)
This was such an exquisitely written book. I love historical fiction but sometimes they can be clumsily written. This is not one of those books. It seems like Doerr was not only writing a beautiful and haunting story, he was also writing a love letter to language. Listening to the AudioBook was like returning to childhood where Nanna would read me an enchanting story, and I had no problem weaving through the timelines after a couple of chapters. Highly recommend to those that enjoy historical fiction about the war, and to those that like intelligent fiction written in such beautiful prose. Thanks Audible!
It's been 4 weeks since I finished this book and my mind still turns to it daily. The vivid imagery, the characters, the simply exquisite style of Doerr ...I was, and still am, immersed it all.
What an epic war tale about a French blind girl and a young German soldier. Both there war have different angles on the war yet they share one thing, an interest in radio. It is beautifully written and the audible book version was so delicately spoken, it brought to life the story that was so detailed and rugged in parts yet so and vulnerable in other parts
Long and sometimes tricky to keep up with (due to the jumps back-and-forth in the timeline) it is still a fantastic read!
The story unfurls slowly, with a delicious use of language. The narrator is one of the best I've listened to.
It's a slow-burn narrative, and once the stories start to converge, it becomes highly enjoyable.
A gripping saga about two characters from very different places during the same period of time.
Historical fiction with enough facts to keep things interesting.
A great listen.
This is a really lovely story, wonderfully unfolded in several short instalments.
My only gripe is with the narrator. There is no variation between voices, making some exchanges a little tricky to follow. And some odd pronunciation. But overall very lovely diction.
"Mispronunciation sure, but buy it anyway!"
All the Light We Cannot See is a well balanced gem of a book - beautifully written descriptions and dialogue. Most of all I loved the diverse and complex relationships. The humanity of all the characters was deftly captured, and the many and varied forms of love.
A few words were noticeably mispronounced and it was a little disruptive when that happened. I got the impression that the reader was aware of some of them opted to persist rather than introduce inconsistency. Ideally those mistakes should have been spotted and corrected before publishing. However, aside from these relatively infrequent glitches I loved the narration - it was unobtrusive, understated and sensitive. I was totally engaged and had no difficulty distinguishing one character from another and certainly experienced a wide range of emotions along with the characters.
I would encourage anyone who loves really good literature to listen to this beautiful story.
"An exceptional novel."
That it was told from perspective of 2 individuals, on opposing sides of the war.
The fleeting touch of romance toward the end.
The narration transfixed me. I thought it was excellent.
Diamond sparkles in the dark.
One of the best novels I've listened to.
"Wonderful reading. Poetry in capital letters."
A historic view of our world, it helps us understand the ordinary and extraordinary life during ww2
"Read more melancholy than it should have been"
The writing is very descriptive and at times poetic. This, along with the narrator using a melancholy tone and rhythm made it a long and dreary listen. Maybe that's what was intended.....
"What a naff ending ......."
visual and historically accurate, it made me feel frustration and anger so that's something I suppose.
"Extraordinary Writer, Magnificent Narrator."
Among the best I have purchased from Audible (up there with the likes of 'Heft', 'The Life We Bury', 'The Goldfinch', Wally Lamb's books and so on). Pure listening pleasure from a very gifted writer and a very talented narrator. Didn't want this one to end.
"Wonderful story well narrated"
Beautifully written story bringing up lots of soul searching. Well researched against the background of German French WW - characters that tug at every heart string.
"Beautiful, unforgettable story."
Probably the best fiction I've listened to in a year. Beautifully written and read. So many novels have been written over the years about WWII but this one is a little different. Every character is special and 'fits' into the story. Thought provoking and special.
"Competently written, but didn't do it for me"
Too rambling for my taste and with little narrative reason behind some of the scenarios (if that makes sense)...such as the heroine's blindness.
"Absolutely worth it"
Beautifully and sensitively written, the characters draw you in. I could not stop listening...
"Great story, woeful narration"
No, the narrator makes too many jarring errors of pronunciation.
Too many mispronunciations. For example, navy - in a passage describing how huge trees were cut down to make masts for ships - the French & British navies become "navvies". Seriously - why didn't someone stop her? So many mistakes I found myself calling out the correction "Not 'straff' - STRAFE!" Just hope I didn't do it on the train.
"Despite the narrator"
Technically exquisite writing - esp from the close pov of the blind girl - and the research a little too heavy to always convince as the characters' knowledge and not the writer unable to resist sharing his long hours in the library, but a story both epic and intimate, sustained and sincere, if sentimental. The narrator is almost comically inadequate. That she struggles with French and German words I can understand - but English, too? Navvies, noted in a review above, is a favourite, but her pronunciation of 'extravagance' is the best, and may outlast the memory of the book itself for me. Wasn't anybody at the recording listening to her? These errors were so numerous I decided to make them added pleasures, but, yes, the writer and the readers deserve better.
"THE WORST NARRATION I HAVE HEARD BY A PROFESSIONAL"
Great novel - almost a masterpiece but no one should have to suffer this narration.
Julie Teal's mispronunciations: 'Pistol Packing Maar Maar' - hilarious. As if read by a gawky public schoolgirl. So many mistakes. Embarrassing. The producer was not fit for purpose. The talent was miscast. And she clearly DIDN'T PREPARE. She just turned up and read it. BADLY. 'd think twice about casting her again. JCA, take note.
It was an insult to the novel. Re-voice it. Julie Teal cannot do this type of narration.
All the above for the right reasons reading it ...and for the wrong reasons listening
I love this book. It is almost a masterpiece. But how can Anthony Doerr, his agent and his publisher have allowed this abysmal narration to be released. It is laughable at times and pitiful at others. I counted 11 mispronunciations in the first 90 minutes. What was poor Julie Teal's producer doing. Not listening to the recording, clearly. Absolutely awful. She's a great actor but - like quite a few TV actors - Anna Chancellor is another - dreadful as a VO and audio artist. So sad where there are some really great narrators out there who know how to do it. Please Please get rid of this version and get a competent performer to re-voice this. At least this shows that this kind of work is not easy. Too many sub-standard people are now muscling in on this. Audible is partly to blame. Please, install some quality control. You are important enough now to take a stand on behalf of your customers.
"Two sides to every story"
No. Although it is very well performed, and the act of listening to this time-shifting and disorientating novel relates very well to the experience of the story's blind heroin, who has to rely much more on her other senses (particularly touch and sound), I think this is a novel better read in print as the point of view changes rapidly from segment to segment (there are no 'chapters' as such) and it's easier to immerse yourself in the written word in this case: so much of the novel is interior thoughts rather than dialogue, which somehow feels more personal when read by yourself.
Any war literature - All Quiet on the Western Front for its German perspective, and even a touch of Anne Frank in the tale of Marie Laure as she is confined to the indoors for a large part of the novel, and is constantly in danger of discovery for her household's role in the Resistance. It has a touch of fantasy with the folklore surrounding the diamond, and it could also be viewed as the tale of an orphaned young girl during occupied France.
I fear I shouldn't say due to spoilers, but I really liked the way the time shifts gradually revealed missing details to the reader without losing any sense of the tension the characters experience.
I liked hearing Werner's interior thoughts, especially that he just wanted to stay in that moment and that place for a thousand years, knowing he would want nothing else.
At the beginning of the novel, I feared it would unfold like a Dan Brown - too much jarring American-english, impossible situations too heroically overcome - but the characterisation and themes are too intense for that to happen: the horrors of WW2 are always shocking and gut-wrenching to read about, and several incidents in this novel offer no exception (spoilers: the Vienna incident; Frederick, his Mother; Volkheimer's actions; Jutta and Fray Elena's horrific ordeal; Daniel leBlanc's pitifully optimistic letters to try to protect his daughter; all the loss of life), so it's no fluffy, escapist read.
"Wonderful, absolutely wonderful"
It's up in the top five. My book club - I'm 7 years in this book club....... - voted it the best book we had ever read..... Now!
I suppose "The Girl who Dropped from the Sky" covered a similar epoch.
i'm a convert to audiobooks because of the acting/voicing talents of the narrators/actors/actresses. It's like the difference between a b/w and 3D colour movie for me. The narrator is a huge contributor to the enjoyment of the book.
Historical Fiction at its very best
Now I'll have to ensure I visit St-Malo sometime soon in the future, to see the actual geography being writing about. I wonder does no.4 Rue Voberelle exist....???? Will I be able to resist walking the beach and looking in the ocean for the sea of Flames.......
I want to thank Anthony Doerr for his talent. I searched the internet for a way to contact him to personally thank him for this book..no luck...so I hope he gets to read my thanks here.
"A well told Story"
This book more than met my expectations. The story was very moving and extremely well told. I would recommend it.
"Wonderful story. Narration a disappointment."
Jarring pronunciation of certain words. Such a shame. Otherwise very enjoyable. Come on Julie. You're reading a prizewinning book. You could have done much better than that.
"Fabulous story, marred by distracting narration"
Haven't read the print version but many times wished I was reading it myself to avoid the many jolting mispronunciations by the narrator. They were very distracting and such a shame as it spoilt the flow of the story for me. So, no, I'd recommend the print version for that reason!
I loved the story, the characters and the vivid settings. The account of Werner's schooling at the hands of the Third Reich was really chilling, especially the victimisation of his friend Frederick.
No I don't think so. She has a lovely clear voice and I trusted her to tell the story, but there were just too many bizarre errors in pronunciation.
A wonderful book that deserved better attention to detail in the production of this audio version.
"Worth a listen..."
Intriguing start, doughy middle, captivating end. Clipped delivery.
Overall, an interesting listen but nothing to rave about
"An excellent, well researched novel"
This has to be my all time favourite buy from Audible, excellently written with almost peotic prose and well drawn characters. It centres around a young girl, Maire-Laure, who has a degenerative eye condition, and a young German boy, Werner, who are both in occupied France during WW2. The story floats backwards and forwards, starting from the siege of St Malo and ending in 1974, interweaving the lives of Marie-Laura and Werner and dragging you into a world of Jules Verne, radios and airwaves. Absolutely beautiful, poignant and one that stays with you. I don`t mind admitting I actually put off listening to the last hour of it because I seriously did not want it to end!!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.