All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book Review by Sharon Lewis

I wasn’t surprised when this book was announced as the Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction in 2015, such was the beautiful imagery and imaginative storytelling within the pages.

All the Light We Cannot See is the story of two young people in Germany and France who become caught in the lead up and subsequent occupation of France during World War 2.  Marie-Laurie is a blind French girl and the daughter of a museum keeper who is entrusted with a precious gem to safeguard from the Germans. He is a creative locksmith who builds a model of the French town of Saint-Malo so Marie-Laurie can be independent, which becomes useful when her father disappears. A large part of the story is centralised around the relationship Marie-Laurie had with her father and growth in independence when he disappears.

Werner Pfennig is an orphan living with his sister in an orphanage in the German mining town of Zollverein.  He discovers that he is very good at fixing mechanical things but especially radios. Werner’s talent means he is eventually discovered by the Nazi’s and he is taken off to train and school as part of the Third Reich. It is this association that eventually leads to his path crossing with Marie-Laurie in Saint-Malo during the German occupation of France.

There is an element of time-shifting in the story and occasionally the descriptions can be over the top but the story mostly works and while you have a sense of where the story is going it is interesting how the journey takes place.

Well worth reading and available at the Lithgow Library Learning Centre.

All the light we cannot see cover