Historical Fiction · History

All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

★★★

 

I started this book on our flight to Rome, which was at the start of June and I only finished the book this week. So, that shows you how long it took me to read it! But in my defence, I have a good reason. While we were in Rome, my gorgeous boyfriend asked me to marry him. So, since we got back it has been a whirlwind of letting everyone know about our engagement, organising an engagement party, booking our church, booking our venue, booking the wedding cars, booking the photographer and having endless meetings with florists. So, we have been pretty busy!

So, that coupled with the fact that I found this book quite tedious explains why it took me more than 2 months to read it.

I picked this book up in a charity shop and on the face of it, it is everything that I enjoy in a book. Historical fiction, set in the war, a mysterious jewel. Sounds exciting, right?

There are two main characters in this book. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris. Her father works as a locksmith at the Natural History Museum in Paris. Marie-Laure loses her sight at an early age, so to help her navigate her way around the city, her father creates a miniature model of their neighbourhood. When the Nazi’s occupy Paris, they flee to Saint-Malo to live with Marie-Laure’s reclusive uncle.

The other character is Werner. He grows up in an orphanage in a mining town in Germany. He is fascinated by the way things works. He finds an old radio and becomes an expert at building and repairing them. This talent wins him a place at a prestigious Hitler Youth school (Never a good sign, right)? The story follows him being signed up into the army, travelling through various areas until he ends up in Saint-Malo, which is where he meets Marie-Laure.

I don’t want to give too much away. And I don’t want to insult this book too much, because I mean.. it wasn’t awful. I just felt like I was waiting for something really important to happen and it never did. The chapters in this book are exceptionally short. Normally I don’t mind that. I read a lot of crime/thriller books and those types of books have plenty of short chapters! Difference is, there are usually cliff-hangers thought out crime/thriller books. I can’t recall a single moment in ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ making me gasp with shock. I just found it quite dull.

It also didn’t help that the narrative would change from one time period to another. And not in chronological order. So just as you learn a bit more about Werner and find yourself wanting to know more…… BOOM. Rewind 30 years and you’re now reading about a different character.

I think the saving grace of this book is it’s writing style. I found it quite haunting… in a peaceful way. Anthony Doer writes in way that enables the reader to almost feel the same things that Marie-Laure feels and that was quite refreshing to me.

Like I said, this is not an awful book. But, for me it was missing something. I’m sat here a couple of days after I have finished it and I’m still not sure what that missing piece is.

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