All The Light We Cannot See
“All the light we cannot see” is a fascinating and evocative novel and the intriguing story line complements the historical tale.
The whimsical tone of author’s writing triggers your imagination. Such emphasis on every detail is dazzling. Roughly every other line is a pleasure to read (or hear in my case). Often times I could picturise the characters, their settings, and their emotions clearly.
One such visual treat from the book, you can visualize a blind girl walking with her father in the war hit Paris. –
Those last nights in Paris, walking home with her father at midnight, the huge book clasped against her chest, Marie-Laure thinks she can sense a shiver beneath the air, in the pauses between the chirring of the insects, like the spider cracks of ice when too much weight is set upon it. As if all this time the city has been no more than a scale model built by her father and the shadow of a great hand has fallen over it.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Another one where you can envision the ocean –
I have been feeling very clear headed lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
The author presents a thought-provoking narrative of war atrocities. He successfully grasps the sentiments of characters at that difficult time.
And yet everything radiates tension, as if the city has been built upon the skin of a balloon and someone is inflating it toward the breaking point.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
For Werner, doubts turn up regularly. Racial purity, political purity—Bastian speaks to a horror of any sort of corruption, and yet, Werner wonders in the dead of night, isn’t life a kind of corruption? A child is born, and the world sets in upon it. Taking things from it, stuffing things into it. Each bite of food, each particle of light entering the eye—the body can never be pure. But this is what the commandant insists upon, why the Reich measures their noses, clocks their hair color. The entropy of a closed system never decreases.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
The intense plot captures the period of second world war.
The story of Marie-Laure and Werner flows parallelly assuring intersection at a future point.
Marie-Laure loses her eyesight at an extremely tender age. Her father, a locksmith at a museum in Paris, is her guardian and caretaker. In an endeavor to make her strong and independent, he builds a miniature model of their neighborhood. She will touch the model thinking of the real one in her mind. One day he takes her to a remote spot, leaves her hand, and commands her to take them home using the model inside her head. Her failures didn’t falter his conviction. And his patience gets rewarded.
He sweeps her hair back from her ears; he swings her above his head. He says she is his émerveillement. He says he will never leave her, not in a million years.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
There is pride, too, though—pride that he has done it alone. That his daughter is so curious, so resilient. There is the humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That’s how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane. The drain moans; the cluttered house crowds in close.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Their entire world collapses when Paris capitulates to Germany. People in masses begin to migrate. Marie-Laure and her father, also, move to Etienne’s residence in Saint Malo. Here once again, Marie-Laure’s father begins construction of a new model for her daughter. Before he leaves for Paris, he conceals a code in that model which only her child can decipher. He leaves for Paris on some business and never returns.
Werner, is an orphan, from Zollverein, Germany. He possesses an inquisitive and ingenious brain. He has aspirations of growing into a scientist. In the current circumstances of war, germans sent their boys either to war front or to coal mines. Fortunately, he is selected to an institution providing war training. He recognizes this as a window to realize his objective as the establishment teaches science. He soon realizes his mistake.
The superintendent is a stickler for discipline and patriotism. He makes them exercise, carry weights or train to fight every day. Although Werner gets the chance to work on radios and learn maths and science, he knows this can be taken away from him at any point. Ultimately war calls him. He along with his troop goes on to search for unauthorized radio transmitters and execute them. Werner saw one such killing and starts having nightmares. He wishes to forget and return to his home. But the war flourishes and with it his duties increase. At last, he arrives in Saint Malo.
My favorites from the book
To really touch something, she is learning—the bark of a sycamore tree in the gardens; a pinned stag beetle in the Department of Etymology; the exquisitely polished interior of a scallop shell in Dr. Geffard’s workshop—is to love it.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
The scientific snippets including those radio broadcasts that gave scientific insights to Werner, make to my list of favorites from the novel.
The brain is locked in total darkness, of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.” – All The Lights We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
I had the audiobook of this one from the library. The voice of the one reading the novel complemented it.
I will give the novel, a 5/5. A rare one for me. And will recommend to readers who have an interest in novels about fiction and history.
Have you read this one? Did you enjoy it? Do leave a comment below for me. You can find more of my book reviews here.