Article in brief: the author shares her review of Anthony Doerr’s book: All The Light We Cannot See.
“You will all surge in the same direction at the same pace toward the same cause… you will eat country and breathe nation.”
Highly acclaimed author Anthony Doerr has succeeded again in presenting a stunningly written bestseller that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year (2015). The novel is set in occupied France during WWII and centres on a German orphaned boy and a blind French girl whose paths cross.
Marie Laurie lives in Paris with her father who works for the Museum of Natural History. She loses her eyesight to cataract at the age of six and her father builds her an elaborated and perfect miniature version of their neighbourhood so she could memorise its buildings and locations by touch. Six years later the Nazis occupy Paris, which forces Marie Laurie and her father to flee their home to live in a walled citadel called Saint-Malo.
Werner is a German boy who lives in an orphanage with his younger sister in a mining town in Germany. Werner becomes an expert in building and fixing radios after finding a radio he became enchanted with. This wins him a place in a cruel academy for Hitler Youth. He is then assigned to track the resistance, which makes him realize humanity pays the price for his intelligence. He travels around until he finally travels into Saint-Malo where he crosses paths with Marie Laurie.
“Her outstretched fingers find an old shaving bowl, an umbrella stand, and a crate full of who-knows-what. The attic floor boards beneath her feet are as wide across as her hands. She knows from experience how much noise a person walking on them makes.”
Anthony Doerr has a brilliant sense of the physical details. He enchants the readers with an amazing ability to embroider his piece with gorgeous vivid metaphors. He also succeeds in illuminating the ways of his characters to finally show that against all odds people try to find ways to be good to one another.
The novel discusses the themes of how strange life is and how coincidences can change our lives in more ways than we expect. The book isn’t only beautiful; it is inspirational to the point that will leave you as a reader wanting to write.
The structure of the book alternates between the point of view of Marie Laurie and Werner. The chapters are short, which makes it easier to not stop reading more and more of this novel. I found the novel to be dazzling and vivid. I think Anthony Doerr had deliberately written short chapters to emphasise the unexpected way the stories of his characters collide to come together. The language is colourful and magical. Nothing about the book gives the reader an indication of how it ends, but when it does it leaves its reader breathless and stunned. I found the book to be a light read, even though the book ended in a way I didn’t expect.
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)
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