All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published by Fourth Estate
23rd April 2015
‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’
For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, 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 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 which 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 magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Set in both France and Germany during the Second World War, it tells the tale of Marie-Laure who is blind and initially a recluse in her own home. Her father builds her a model of their neighbourhood in Paris which she has to learn to follow by heart before she can be allowed outside on her own. For me this was the best part of the story - following her journey and progress and of how frightening it must be to become blind and of how to live your life once more. The story also takes us to the other side of the war into Germany and of brother and sister Werner and Jutta. Werner can make radios come to life and his talent does not go unnoticed by the Nazi party. Soon he is drafted into a war as part of the Hitler Youth and his path will eventually cross with that of Marie-Laure's. The main part of the story is set in Saint-Malo as the invasion by the Germans enters into France and Marie-Laure is forced into hiding. Her father has vanished, and with him, the possible diamond that is housed in the Museum of Natural History. There are some who would kill for that stone, and this endangers Marie-Laure further. Who to trust and who not to trust in a war of two sides? For Werner and Marie-Laure this becomes a matter of life and death.
I guess I should have known that I wouldn't fall in love with this book. It's not necessarily the fault of the book but I don't think I've ever enjoyed a prize-winning novel; I sometimes find them a bit too 'above' me if that makes sense. However, that is not to say that All the Light we Cannot See is not a good book; I just didn't think it was a great book but there are many more who would disagree with me as in some parts it is both incredibly beautiful and gripping.
Miss Chapters x