All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


This book is everywhere. On commuter trains, in bookshop windows, winning prizes (the Pulitzer and the Carnegie, thank you very much). There’s probably a film in the making given this popularity and its elements of a blockbuster WWII thriller.

Marie-Laure is a blind girl, looked after by her devoted father, a museum locksmith in Paris. They retreat to stay with an uncle during the occupation, with a hidden legendary diamond from the museum. Werner is a talented engineering protégé, put to use locating Resistance radios by the Nazis. Their paths cross. All whilst being pursued by a creepy Nazi general seeking said jewel.

Despite the cinematic coincidences and dramatic symbolism, I desperately wanted to know what would happen to the characters. It’s a page turner at heart- I can see why people miss their bus stops.

What I especially loved was that each of them has an obsession, a driving passion, be it for radios or diamonds or molluscs or La Resistance. Here Doerr’s writing really comes into its own, with beautiful and touching detail.

He communicates abstract concepts in a way that strikes a real chord: I don’t know what it’s like to be blind, but I can now appreciate a sensory, internal world of touch and movement. Similarly, no idea how radios work, but can glimpse a little of their magic through Werner’s whirling brain.

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but, oh my, there are many, many tea drinkers out there.

Read: to see what the fuss is about.

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