Narrated By: Julie Teal
Duration: 17 hours
What to expect
A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.
Modern & contemporary fiction, Historical fiction
Listen to a sample
'Far more than a conventional war story, It's a tightly focused epic revolving around two unusual main characters … Doerr paints with a rich palette, using prose that resonates deeply and conveys the ephemera of daily existence along with high drama, sadness and hope … A bittersweet and moving novel that lingers in the mind' Clifford Beal, Daily Mail
‘TIt is easy to understand why Doerr’s book is regarded by many as an epic and a masterpiece’ Justin Cartwright, Observer
‘This novel will be a piece of luck for anyone with a long plane journey or beach holiday ahead. It is such a page-turner, entirely absorbing… [Doerr’s] attention to detail is magnificent’ Carmen Callil, Guardian
‘Doerr’s novel seems poised somewhere between the sublime and the twee. It very much lands on the right side of things, thanks to the author’s eye for detail and the suspenseful rhythm of his chapters — often only a page or two — which expertly cut back and forth in time. He can bring a scene to life in a single paragraph … Delicate and moving … the novel takes hold and will not easily let go’ Lidija Haas, The Times
‘Boy meets girl in Anthony Doerr’s hauntingly beautiful new book, but the circumstances are as elegantly circuitous as they can be’ Janet Maslin, The New York Times
‘I’m not sure I will read a better novel this year … Enthrallingly told, beautifully written and so emotionally plangent that some passages bring tears’ Amanda Vaill, Washington Post
‘This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece … Doerr’s writing and imagery are stunning. It’s been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion.’ Abraham Verghese
‘“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