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All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel Hardcover – May 6 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 406 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (May 6 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476746583
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501132872
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 406 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Exquisite…Mesmerizing…Nothing short of brilliant.” (Alice Evans Portland Oregonian)

“Hauntingly beautiful.” (Janet Maslin The New York Times)

“History intertwines with irresistible fiction—secret radio broadcasts, a cursed diamond, a soldier’s deepest doubts—into a richly compelling, bittersweet package.” (Mary Pols People (3 1/2 stars))

“Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits.” (Elissa Schappell Vanity Fair)

“The whole enthralls.” (Good Housekeeping)

“Enthrallingly told, beautifully written…Every piece of back story reveals information that charges the emerging narrative with significance, until at last the puzzle-box of the plot slides open to reveal the treasure hidden inside.” (Amanda Vaill Washington Post)

“Stupendous…A beautiful, daring, heartbreaking, oddly joyous novel.” (David Laskin The Seattle Times)

“Stunning and ultimately uplifting… Doerr’s not-to-be-missed tale is a testament to the buoyancy of our dreams, carrying us into the light through the darkest nights.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Doerr has packed each of his scenes with such refractory material that All the Light We Cannot See reflects a dazzling array of themes….Startlingly fresh.” (John Freeman The Boston Globe)

“Gorgeous… moves with the pace of a thriller… Doerr imagines the unseen grace, the unseen light that, occasionally, surprisingly, breaks to the surface even in the worst of times.” (Dan Cryer San Francisco Chronicle)

“Incandescent… a luminous work of strife and transcendence… with characters as noble as they are enthralling” (Hamilton Cain O, the Oprah magazine)

“Perfectly captured…Doerr writes sentences that are clear-eyed, taut, sweetly lyrical.” (Josh Cook Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“A beautiful, expansive tale…Ambitious and majestic.” (Steph Cha Los Angeles Times)

“This tough-to-put-down book proves its worth page after lyrical page…Each and every person in this finely spun assemblage is distinct and true.” (Sharon Peters USA Today)

“Doerr is an exquisite stylist; his talents are on full display.” (Alan Cheuse NPR)

“Vivid…[All the Light We Cannot See] brims with scrupulous reverence for all forms of life. The invisible light of the title shines long after the last page.” (Tricia Springstubb Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Intricate… A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.” (New Yorker)

“Doerr deftly guides All the Light We Cannot See toward the day Werner’s and Marie-Laure lives intersect during the bombing of Saint-Malo in what may be his best work to date.” (Yvonne Zipp Christian Science Monitor)

“To open a book by Anthony Doerr is to open a door on humanity…His sentences shimmer…His paragraphs are luminous with bright, sparkling beauty.” (Martha Anne Toll Washington Independent Review of Books)

“Endlessly bold and equally delicate…An intricate miracle of invention, narrative verve, and deep research lightly held, but above all a miracle of humanity….Anthony Doerr’s novel celebrates—and also accomplishes—what only the finest art can: the power to create, reveal, and augment experience in all its horror and wonder, heartbreak and rapture.” (Shelf Awareness)

“Magnificent.” (Carmen Callil The Guardian (UK))

“Intricately structured…All the Light We Cannot See is a work of art and of preservation.” (Jane Ciabattari BBC)

“A revelation.” (Michael Magras BookReporter.com)

“Anthony Doerr writes beautifully… A tour de force.” (Elizabeth Reed Deseret Morning News)

“A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. . . . Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably recreates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“If a book’s success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize-winner Doerr’s novel triumphs on both counts. He convinces readers...that war—despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices—cannot negate the pleasures of the world.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“This novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece…[All the Light We Cannot See] presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending…Highly recommended for fans of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.” (Evelyn Beck Library Journal (starred review))

"What a delight! This novel has exquisite writing and a wonderfully suspenseful story. A book you'll tell your friends about..." (Frances Itani, author of Deafening)

“This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece, its many threads coming together so perfectly. Doerr’s writing and imagery are stunning. It’s been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion. The story still lives on in my head.” (Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone)

All the Light We Cannot See is a dazzling, epic work of fiction. Anthony Doerr writes beautifully about the mythic and the intimate, about snails on beaches and armies on the move, about fate and love and history and those breathless, unbearable moments when they all come crashing together.” (Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins)

“Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet. He knows about everything—radios, diamonds, mollusks, birds, flowers, locks, guns—but he also writes a line so beautiful, creates an image or scene so haunting, it makes you think forever differently about the big things—love, fear, cruelty, kindness, the countless facets of the human heart. Wildly suspenseful, structurally daring, rich in detail and soul, Doerr’s new novel is that novel, the one you savor, and ponder, and happily lose sleep over, then go around urging all your friends to read—now.” (J.R. Moehringer, author of Sutton and The Tender Bar)

“A tender exploration of this world's paradoxes; the beauty of the laws of nature and the terrible ends to which war subverts them; the frailty and the resilience of the human heart; the immutability of a moment and the healing power of time. The language is as expertly crafted as the master locksmith's models in the story, and the settings as intricately evoked. A compelling and uplifting novel.” (M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans)

“The craftsmanship of Doerr’s book is rooted in his ability to inhabit the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner…[A] fine novel.” (Steve Novak Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Beautifully written… Soulful and addictive.” (Chris Stuckenschneider The Missourian)

“Doerr conjures up a vibrating, crackling world…Intricately, beautifully crafted.” (Rebecca Kelley Bustle.com)

“There is so much in this book. It is difficult to convey the complexity, the detail, the beauty and the brutality of this simple story.” (Carole O'Brien Aspen Daily News)

“Sometimes a novel doesn’t merely transport. It immerses, engulfs, keeps you caught within its words until the very end, when you blink and remember there’s a world beyond the pages. All the Light We Cannot See is such a book… Vibrant, poignant, delicately exquisite. Despite the careful building of time and place (so vivid you fall between the pages), it’s not a story of history; it’s a story of people living history.” (Historical Novel Society)

About the Author

Anthony Doerr is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See. He is also the author of two story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won four O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A beautiful story, set in, but not really about, the second world war. A teenage blind French girl and her grandfather, a teenage German boy with a gift for fixing radios, and a precious stone hidden in a museum.
With sensitivity and skill the author weaves the different strands of the story,keeping the reader spellbound until the end. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is that I sometimes lost the connection when the author switched from one main character to the other. Perhaps that was my fault though as my short term memory is getting to be very short indeed these days!
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Format: Hardcover
It is not often that I read a book that so enchants me that I totally lose myself in it - this is that sort of book. Set during the dark days of the second World War we are introduced to two German orphans Werner and Jutta Pfennig . He is being brought up to go down the same mine that killed his father. But he has a talent for making and mending radios and so by dint of his own enthusiasm he manages to secure an alternative future.

He ends up going to one of the National Political Educational schools or NAPOLA's as they were known. This is where boys were turned into fighting machines to maintain the Thousand year Reich. We also have the story of a locksmith and his blind daughter - Marie-Laure Le Balnc. Once the invasion is on and The Battle of France is all but lost they escape to St Malo where he has a reclusive cousin. He is also taking something that is both cursed and attractive to rare gem enthusiasts. The story of these two unassuming children is destined to cross, but the story of how that comes to be is as incredible as it is moving.

There is so much more to this book, author Anthony Doerr has written a master piece along the lines I would expect of Louis De Bernier - which is a massive compliment. The story starts off at what we think is near the end and we play catch up as the story unfolds and we are taken back to the beginnings for both Werner and Marie-Laure. The language is both subtle and inventive with simple words being used in effortless analogies to bring the characters, situations and landscape to vivid life.

It is over 500 pages and I just wish it had been twice as long it was that enjoyable. I could go on all day piling on praise - suffice to say that this is the best read I have had this year and will now take a look at the other four works from this remarkable author.
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By Lynne Frappier TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 18 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think I'm swaying towards a 4.5 star review rather than a 5 star one ... and the only reason is that I think that last 50 pages weren't necessary. The book could have ended in WWII France and I would have been happy.

That being said. This books is pretty darn-close to perfection. Anthony Doerr writes beautifully. He is able to transport us into WWII France and Germany; into the world of Marie-Laure: a blind, French girl who so loves Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, adores her father, saves her great-uncle Etienne, and is simply a wonderful protagonist.

Meanwhile we also follow Werner: a German orphan who questions everything scientific, but doesn't question events that are happening around him. A boy who loves his sister, but is lost in his mind of tinkering with machines and radios.

We go back and forth between their stories - from Germany to France over the years of 1934 to 1943. And although their stories don't have much in common, they still do come full circle in the end.

I got lost in both their worlds, I cheered and cried for them. Was gutted when certain things happened. If you enjoy historical fiction, this should be on your *to read list*.
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Format: Paperback
A beautifully written story in which the stories of a young blind French girl an impoverished young German boy are told. As the novel progresses the threads appear that tie them together. The story is thoughtful, all the characters well developed including the supporting characters. And as with life everyone's ending is not fairytale happiness.
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By Robert P. Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 10 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The setting for this 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner; France and Germany during the later stages of WWll. It follows the lives of:
- Daniel LeBlanc, formerly principal locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, who builds intricate puzzle boxes, tiny replicas of houses and of the city, for his daughter:
- Marie-Laurie, blind, who lives with her reclusive great-uncle in St. Malo, Brittany, to where she and her father have been forced to flee when the Nazis invade Paris.
- Werner Pfennig, an orphan, who from an early age has been fascinated by radios which he soon learns to build and repair. As a teenager he has been drafted into the German army, his duties,; to triangulate the location of Resistance transmitters.
- Von Rumpel, Nazi Sargent-Major, who is searching for an elusive diamond, "The Sea of Flames", once located in the museum in Paris. Superstition has it that the keeper will live forever while misfortunes fall on all those he loves.

Doerr`s masterful prose style brilliantly evokes the horrors of war, what life is like under Occupation forces, while on the other side, the brutal training of young people to become defenders of the Fatherland.

An emotional story that will stay with the reader long after it is read.
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