All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr


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.

4 stars

Brilliant writing and storytelling. I have seen very few authors who can pull off a parallel narrative and Doerr does it beautifully.  It was a well researched book. All the timelines were intact and even the sieges and the ceasefires.

I particularly was very fond of the way the book was written. It was a little confusing because of the time lapse and mostly his authorial voice was so aloof and indifferent, but that’s maybe because he is writing in third person. I absolutely loved the way Marie-Laure’s surroundings were described. They were always either described through touch or sound. It was beautiful to read as well.

The chapters were short, and three parallel story lines were merging with the greater plot of war and the sub-plots of the power of superstition and technology.I had a lot of language and geographical glitches, as I am neither acquainted with France or German . However, most of the story draws from the sea, the road, the trenches – something which is easier to picture.

My favourite character was Werner. I felt like he wasn’t respected though – by Marie-Laure, Jutta orThe Gaint as well. I might be a little biased here but why didn’t they love him enough, or care for him enough. 

This might sound unfair, but I kept comparing The Book Thief to All the Light We Cannot See. The setting was so similar in many ways. But still my favourite remains The Book Thief, not because of the narrator or the way its narrated but because it has so many arguments about the power of language, something that this book deals with as well.

Anway, I liked the style; I like how fluid and how thought provoking his statements were. All in all, this is a must read.

P.s. – I am sorry if this review sounds very academic-y, its maybe because I read this the second time around and have a better insight into it. 


-Painting Stories


2 thoughts on “All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

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