Monday, July 6, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Publisher - Scribner
Publish Date - 5/6/14
Genre - Historical Fiction
Buy on Amazon

My Rating:

In this novel, Doerr tells two parallel stories during the Nazi uprising in Germany and France that eventually weave their way together. The first is of Marie-Laure who lives with her father in Paris, France. Her father works at the Museum of Natural History as a locksmith. It is rumored that this museum is home to one of the most cursed jewels in all of history – the “Sea of Flame”.

At the age of six, Marie goes blind and her father builds her a miniature version of the city so she can learn to maneuver the city on her own. Six years later, the Nazis occupy Paris and Marie and her father have to flee the city. What Marie does not know is that she and her father may be carrying the dangerous Sea of Flame jewel and all of the legendary misfortune that comes with it. The museum curator made 3 exact copies of the jewel and sent one of each, along with the real one, to trusted friends in order to keep the jewel out of the hands of the Nazis.

The second story is that of Werner, an orphan, growing up in a German mining town. He and his sister Jutta find an old radio and eventually, Werner becomes an expert at fixing radios and equipment. During war time, this proved to be an incredibly valuable skill to have. This skill earns Werner a spot at a Hitler Youth Academy. Eventually, Werner is put on an assignment to track down Nazi resistors who were broadcasting over illegal radios. As Werner hears more and more disturbing broadcasts, he begins to question whether he is on the right side of this fight.

It is while Werner is on this mission, that his story finally converges with Marie-Laure’s. Werner traces a broadcast signal to the home where Marie-Laure is hiding from a dangerous German treasure-hunter. He saves Marie from the man sent to track down the very jewel that Marie carries with her. Even though their time together is short, they form a close bond with one another.

I won’t spoil the end, but Werner’s story continues on through his sister Jutta where the location of the Sea of Flame jewel is finally revealed.

Doerr does a magnificent job of detailing the war-ridden world that Werner and Marie must navigate and survive. Yet, while this story takes place during a war, it really is not about the war itself. The tale that Doerr weaves is one much more vast that highlights how, regardless of circumstances, humans can still be good to each other.

While Doerr's prose is beautiful, it does tend to be a bit wordy and over descriptive in places. I found myself skipping quickly over sentences and paragraphs instead of soaking up the imagery. I would realize though that I had missed important details and had to go back. I was also not a big fan of the super-short chapters. It made the story feel a bit choppy and would cause me to lose my rhythm. Despite these flaws in the writing style, the story really was a page-turner that I couldn’t put down.

PAIR THIS WITH - Chateau La Jorine St. Emilion  

This novel really called for something bold, complex and of course, French. Chateau La Jorine’s St. Emilion is just that. This is a complex wine that shows sweet berry fruits, ripe tannins and new wood flavors. It is dense and chewy while also being full of rich fruits. Sip this one slowly and let your fingers fly through the pages of this story.

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