On my bookshelf: All the Light We Cannot See



All the Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer prize for fiction. It is set against the backdrop of World War II and specifically the German occupation of France. It tells the parallel stories of two children's experiences of the war - Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who lived with her father in Paris and then moved to Saint-Malo at the start of the German occupation of France and Werner, an orphaned German boy, whose skills for fixing radios brings him to the attention of the Nazi regime and ultimately to a life in the Wehrmacht.

It is a gripping novel and my constant desire to know what happens next to the main characters kept me turning the pages long into the nights. It is written in short chapters which constantly made me say to myself 'one more chapter' before lights out. This is definitely an Honest Project favourite and a book I highly recommend. Perfect reading material with which to curl up in an armchair of an evening.

What it says on the back cover...

"For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of 6, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future that draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

In this magnificant, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another."

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris. He is the key keeper at the national museum. Trusted as part of a museum plan to keep a precious stone out of Nazi hands, Marie-Laure's father leads himself and Marie-Laure out of Paris and ultimately to his eccentric uncle's house in Saint-Malo. Meanwhile, Werner's radio fixing skills sees him joining an elite national school training young German boys. He is drafted into the Wehrmacht at 15 and moves to the front to use his skills to pick up radio transmissions from resistance fighters. Life becomes increasingly difficult for both characters as the war continues. Ultimately Werner ends up in Saint-Malo and his and Marie-Laure's paths cross.

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

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DESIGNED BY Frances Walsh 

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