“It is not bravery. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
We should disallow books like Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. For an author to create two lovable protagonists and force the reader to endure their tribulations and fret over their fates for the entirety of the novel is an exercise in cruelty. A most enjoyable cruelty, but torturesome all the same.
All the Light We Cannot See tells of all the humanity, inhumanity, and horrors that were a part of World War II in Europe. Marie-Louise is the blind daughter of a Parisian locksmith. During the German invasion of France, she and her father flee to Saint Malo, where she becomes embroiled in Hitler’s quest to take possession of the world’s great riches and works of art. Not least among the riches is the famed and mythical gem, the Sea of Flames.
Meanwhile, Werner is an orphaned German, who may be one of Germany’s bright, young minds. Math and science do not present obstacles for him, and indeed present him opportunity for a better life. But Werner, like thousands of other German boys, is conscripted into the German army, where he too eventually finds himself in Saint Malo.
Earlier in the Fall, I read Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, who I described as the best novel I’d read in some time. I don’t mind telling you that All the Light We Cannot See has usurped it. I listened to Anthony Doerr’s novel as an audiobook and couldn’t be more grateful that I had many trips all over Alabama so I could listen to the book in great chunks at a time. I wholely recommend to you Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See – you can buy it on Amazon in any format.
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Photo by Michael Levine-Clark.