Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful 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 in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. 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, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. 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).
“Exquisite…Mesmerizing…Nothing short of brilliant.”–Alice Evans “Portland Oregonian ”
“Hauntingly beautiful.”–Janet Maslin “The New York Times ”
“History intertwines with irresistible fiction–secret radio broadcasts, a cursed diamond, a soldier’s deepest doubts–into a richly compelling, bittersweet package.”–Mary Pols “People (3 1/2 stars) ”
“Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits.”–Elissa Schappell “Vanity Fair ”
“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.”–Amanda Vaill “Washington Post ”
“Stupendous…A beautiful, daring, heartbreaking, oddly joyous novel.”–David Laskin “The Seattle Times ”
“Dazzling…Startlingly fresh.”–John Freeman “The Boston Globe ”
“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.”–Dan Cryer “San Francisco Chronicle ”
“Incandescent…Mellifluous and unhurried…Characters as noble as they are enthralling. Doerr looms myriad strains into a luminous work of strife and transcendence.”–Hamilton Cain “O, the Oprah magazine ”
“Perfectly captured…Doerr writes sentences that are clear-eyed, taut, sweetly lyrical.”–Josh Cook “Minneapolis Star Tribune ”
About the Author
Anthony Doerr is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See. He is also the author of two story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won four O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.
Top customer reviews
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE is one of the best books you’ll read this year. On one hand, the title implies the lessons learned by a young German orphan boy about radio waves. On the other hand, as the author describes it, “It’s also a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II.” Add in a newly blinded French girl who is forced to leave her familiar surroundings, and you’ll soon find yourself in literary heaven.
The layered meanings run deep in this book. No wonder nearly every advanced review uses the word “intricate” to describe this masterpiece. The German boy and his sister discover an old radio, where they hear science lessons from afar. There are lessons about the brain, sitting inside the darkness of our skull, interpreting light; there are lessons about coal having been plants living millions of years ago, absorbing light, now buried in darkness; lessons about light waves that we cannot see—all applicable as the story unfolds.
Readers will appreciate the short, almost lyrical chapters of alternating characters. The author helps by italicizing earlier mentioned quotes and then leaving almost every chapter closing with a message to ponder. Take for example: “a real diamond is never perfect”, “open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever”, and “the entropy of a closed system never decreases”. All of this is explained in a natural way, but never given out in an assuming manner. The story flows and draws your heart into its deep meaning.
Having personal connections to both veterans of World War II and members of the blind community, I can attest to the authenticity of this story’s writing. Author Anthony Doerr brings out lovely characters, along with their own fascinations: seashell collecting, bird watching, locksmithing, electronics, and geology. The history surrounding these personal stories is real and deep. You will fall in love.
The author also includes connections to the song Clair de Lune, the book 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and a fictional story about a priceless diamond called the Sea of Flames, whose owner “so long as he keeps it, the keeper of the stone will live forever.”
I cannot proclaim loud enough how much this book means to me; I have been left awe-inspired. So, thank you to Scribner for making this book available for me to review. It has been an honor.
Light. When you pass it through a prism, you’ll see that it’s actually composed of many colors. The prism creates a rainbow by redirecting each wavelength out a slightly different angle. Red has the longest wavelength, and violet the shortest. But light doesn’t stop at red or violet. Just like there are sounds we can’t hear (but other animals can), there is also an enormous range of light—the electromagnetic spectrum– that our eyes (and ears) can’t detect.
Light. It plays an important role in our novel. It’s war time. One group of characters is German; the other is French. There are the predictable stereotypes: the sadistic German sergeant drills his boys at night. The clever albino Hitler youth is a genius with short wave. The wicked pursuer seeks a gem with an internal light. The sympathetic blind girl needs no light to make connections. The selfless father and uncle broadcast music and enemy coordinates.
Light. When viewed through the prism of war, we see it forms a composition that is more than the sum of the parts. True there are individual pieces. But, after a while the pieces begin to connect. No longer is it simply the points of light that compel us. No, it’s the connections. It’s at the connections—the places that the individual pieces resonate with each other– where we get context, where we get deeper meaning, and where we finally see the light.