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All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

by Anthony Doerr

Narrated by Zach Appelman

Unabridged — 16 hours, 2 minutes

Anthony Doerr

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Overview

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, 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.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. 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, 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, 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.

Doerr's "stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors" (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. 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).



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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

Boy meets girl in Anthony Doerr's hauntingly beautiful new book, but the circumstances are as elegantly circuitous as they can be…surprisingly fresh and enveloping…What's unexpected about its impact is that the novel does not regard Europeans' wartime experience in a new way. Instead, Mr. Doerr's nuanced approach concentrates on the choices his characters make and on the souls that have been lost, both living and dead.

Publishers Weekly

★ 02/17/2014
In 1944, the U.S. Air Force bombed the Nazi-occupied French coastal town of St. Malo. Doerr (Memory Wall) starts his story just before the bombing, then goes back to 1934 to describe two childhoods: those of Werner and Marie-Laure. We meet Werner as a tow-headed German orphan whose math skills earn him a place in an elite Nazi training school—saving him from a life in the mines, but forcing him to continually choose between opportunity and morality. Marie-Laure is blind and grows up in Paris, where her father is a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, until the fall of Paris forces them to St. Malo, the home of Marie-Laure’s eccentric great-uncle, who, along with his longtime housekeeper, joins the Resistance. Doerr throws in a possibly cursed sapphire and the Nazi gemologist searching for it, and weaves in radio, German propaganda, coded partisan messages, scientific facts, and Jules Verne. Eventually, the bombs fall, and the characters’ paths converge, before diverging in the long aftermath that is the rest of the 20th century. 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. (May)

M.L. Stedman

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. The language is as expertly crafted as the master locksmith's models in the story, and the settings as intricately evoked. A compelling and uplifting novel.

J.R. Moehringer

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. Wildly suspenseful, structurally daring, rich in detail and soul, 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.

Jess Walter

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.

Abraham Verghese

This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece, its many threads coming together so perfectly. Doerr’s writing and imagery are stunning. It’s been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion. The story still lives on in my head.

Frances Itani

"What a delight! This novel has exquisite writing and a wonderfully suspenseful story. A book you'll tell your friends about..."

Booklist (starred review)

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 recreates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.

Bustle.com - Rebecca Kelley

Doerr conjures up a vibrating, crackling world…Intricately, beautifully crafted.

BookReporter.com - Michael Magras

A revelation.

BBC - Jane Ciabattari

Intricately structured…All the Light We Cannot See is a work of art and of preservation.

The Guardian (UK) - Carmen Callil

Magnificent.

Shelf Awareness

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.

Cleveland Plain Dealer - Tricia Springstubb

Vivid…[All the Light We Cannot See] brims with scrupulous reverence for all forms of life. The invisible light of the title shines long after the last page.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Steve Novak

The craftsmanship of Doerr’s book is rooted in his ability to inhabit the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner…[A] fine novel.

Christian Science Monitor - Yvonne Zipp

Doerr deftly guides All the Light We Cannot See toward the day Werner’s and Marie-Laure lives intersect during the bombing of Saint-Malo in what may be his best work to date.

Washington Independent Review of Books - Martha Anne Toll

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.

NPR - Alan Cheuse

Doerr is an exquisite stylist; his talents are on full display.

USA Today - Sharon Peters

This tough-to-put-down book proves its worth page after lyrical page…Each and every person in this finely spun assemblage is distinct and true.

Los Angeles Times - Steph Cha

A beautiful, expansive tale…Ambitious and majestic.

Minneapolis Star Tribune - Josh Cook

Perfectly captured…Doerr writes sentences that are clear-eyed, taut, sweetly lyrical.

O, the Oprah magazine - Hamilton Cain

Incandescent…Mellifluous and unhurried…Characters as noble as they are enthralling. Doerr looms myriad strains into a luminous work of strife and transcendence.

San Francisco Chronicle - Dan Cryer

Gorgeous… moves with the pace of a thriller… Doerr imagines the unseen grace, the unseen light that, occasionally, surprisingly, breaks to the surface even in the worst of times.

The Boston Globe - John Freeman

Dazzling…Startlingly fresh.

Entertainment Weekly

Stunning and ultimately uplifting… Doerr’s not-to-be-missed tale is a testament to the buoyancy of our dreams, carrying us into the light through the darkest nights.

The Seattle Times - David Laskin

Stupendous…A beautiful, daring, heartbreaking, oddly joyous novel.

Washington Post - Amanda Vaill

Enthrallingly told, beautifully written…Every piece of back story reveals information that charges the emerging narrative with significance, until at last the puzzle-box of the plot slides open to reveal the treasure hidden inside.

Good Housekeeping

The whole enthralls.

Vanity Fair - Elissa Schappell

Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits.

People (3 1/2 stars) - Mary Pols

History intertwines with irresistible fiction—secret radio broadcasts, a cursed diamond, a soldier’s deepest doubts—into a richly compelling, bittersweet package.

Portland Oregonian - Alice Evans

Exquisite…Mesmerizing…Nothing short of brilliant.

Booklist

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 recreates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.

Karen Russell

Anthony Doerr can find the universe in a grain of sand and write characters I care about with my whole heart.

Library Journal

★ 02/01/2014
Shifting among multiple viewpoints but focusing mostly on blind French teenager Marie-Laure and Werner, a brilliant German soldier just a few years older than she, this novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece. The main protagonists are brave, sensitive, and intellectually curious, and in another time they might have been a couple. But they are on opposite sides of the horrors of World War II, and their fates ultimately collide in connection with the radio—a means of resistance for the Allies and just one more avenue of annihilation for the Nazis. Set mostly in the final year of the war but moving back to the 1930s and forward to the present, the novel presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending. Marie-Laure and Werner both suffer crushing losses and struggle to survive with dignity amid Hitler's swath of cruelty and destruction. VERDICT Doerr (The Shell Collector) has received multiple honors for his fiction, including four O. Henry Prizes and the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award. His latest is highly recommended for fans of Michael Ondaatje's similarly haunting The English Patient.—Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2014-03-06
Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect. In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She's taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure's father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children's House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he's put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she's broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure's father's having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major. Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940170800247
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/15/2019
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews