Doerr, Anthony

All the Light We Cannot See

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ISBN: 9781480000000
FORMAT: Hardcover
EDITION: First Edition
PAGES: 531
CATEGORY: Historical fiction
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).

Editorial Reviews

A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2014

In this elegant bestseller set during World War II, Guggenheim fellow Anthony Doerr (The Shell Collector) uses radio's ability to cross enemy lines as a device to weave together the fate of a young, blind French girl and an orphaned German boy. There is a fairytale quality to the book--the girl and her father must flee to a rickety old house by the sea; the boy must march with monsters and yet retain his humanity--that works perfectly with Doerr's evocative prose. See all of the Best Fiction Books of 2014.

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.
- The New York Times - Janet Maslin

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)
- Publishers Weekly

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.
- Washington Independent Review of Books - Martha Anne Toll

Intricately structured...All the Light We Cannot See is a work of art and of preservation.
- BBC - Jane Ciabattari

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.
- Abraham Verghese

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

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.
- Aspen Daily News - Carole O'Brien

Intricate... A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.
- New Yorker

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.
- Entertainment Weekly

Perfectly captured...Doerr writes sentences that are clear-eyed, taut, sweetly lyrical.
- Minneapolis Star Tribune - Josh Cook

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.
- M.L. Stedman

Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits.
- Vanity Fair - Elissa Schappell

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.
- Booklist (starred review)

Sometimes a novel doesn't merely transport. It immerses, engulfs, keeps you caught within its words until the very end, when you blink and remember there's a world beyond the pages. All the Light We Cannot See is such a book... Vibrant, poignant, delicately exquisite. Despite the careful building of time and place (so vivid you fall between the pages), it's not a story of history; it's a story of people living history.
- Historical Novel Society

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.
- Christian Science Monitor - Yvonne Zipp

Doerr has packed each of his scenes with such refractory material that All the Light We Cannot See reflects a dazzling array of themes....Startlingly fresh.
- The Boston Globe - John Freeman

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.
- USA Today - Sharon Peters

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.
- J.R. Moehringer

- The Guardian (UK) - Carmen Callil

A beautiful, expansive tale...Ambitious and majestic.
- Los Angeles Times - Steph Cha

The whole enthralls.
- Good Housekeeping

Incandescent... a luminous work of strife and transcendence... with characters as noble as they are enthralling
- O, the Oprah magazine - Hamilton Cain

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.
- Washington Post - Amanda Vaill

Doerr conjures up a vibrating, crackling world...Intricately, beautifully crafted.
- - Rebecca Kelley

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

The craftsmanship of Doerr's book is rooted in his ability to inhabit the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner...[A] fine novel.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Steve Novak

Doerr is an exquisite stylist; his talents are on full display.
- NPR - Alan Cheuse

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.
- San Francisco Chronicle - Dan Cryer

Stupendous...A beautiful, daring, heartbreaking, oddly joyous novel.
- The Seattle Times - David Laskin

History intertwines with irresistible fiction-secret radio broadcasts, a cursed diamond, a soldier's deepest doubts-into a richly compelling, bittersweet package.
- People (3 1/2 stars) - Mary Pols

Exquisite...Mesmerizing...Nothing short of brilliant.
- Portland Oregonian - Alice Evans

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

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.
- Cleveland Plain Dealer - Tricia Springstubb

A revelation.
- - Michael Magras

Anthony Doerr writes beautifully... A tour de force.
- Deseret Morning News - Elizabeth Reed

Beautifully written... Soulful and addictive.
- The Missourian - Chris Stuckenschneider

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.
- Booklist

Intricate... A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.
- New Yorker

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.
- Booklist

Doerr, a fabulous writer, pens an epic novel about a blind French girl and a German boy in occupied France and their struggles to survive World War II.
- Seattle Times - Mary Ann Gwinn

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

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.

- Kirkus Reviews