UPDATE: It’s finally out in paperback!!! If you haven’t picked it up because you were waiting for this format, now’s your chance! 4/6/2017
My first thought when I started reading this book was, “Well, it’s no WWI book…” (You know how I love my WWI stories!)
However it was a book discussion group pick at my home library and I had to read it. I’ll admit that I had been intrigued to read it–a book STILL in hardcover after 2 years–as everyone was talking about it and telling me how much they loved it! As I read it, I slowly became enamored of the characters and the unusual settings. It is historical fiction with multiple perspectives and a compelling narrative.
All the Light We Cannot See is a complex story with short chapters that move back and forth in time as well as among the characters. I enjoyed this aspect of the book as I like getting to know the characters over time and the reveal of bits of information that will be explained later in the book. These kinds of “puzzle” books keep me interested!
This is not the usual WWII story, of survival in battle or camps. Doerr tells a suspenseful story of the invasion of Paris and Saint Malo and the experiences of the main character, Marie-Laure, her father and others affected by it. At the same time, we learn about Werner Pfennig, a brilliant orphan with remarkable engineering talent with radio, who is enticed to a “school” run by the Nazi’s and the people surrounding his story.
In the end, I enjoyed this novel and do recommend it for those who like their historical fiction filled with beautifully crafted sentences and character development. Based on a true event near the end of WWII, the history is also interesting, but is superseded by the actions and reactions of the characters involved.
If you’ve read All the Light We Cannot See and want to read more books like it, here are some recommendations:
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave–highly anticipated new book of WWII with compelling characters and a narrative that moves back and forth in time
In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds–similarly complex and with well-drawn characters who form intense emotional bonds
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje–war and its lingering effects
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah–resilience of the human spirit
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure–wartime morals and obligations