All the Light We Cannot See

The Book

Christine and I both loved Anthony Doerr’s magnificent 2015 Pullitzer Prize winning story.

Set against the backdrop of WWII, the story takes place in Saint-Malo, an ancient port city in northern France. Here we learn the story of two unlikely people whose lives converge – Werner, an orphan from a mining town in Germany, and Marie-Laure, a blind girl from Paris. When Marie-Laure is 12, she and her father flee occupied Paris for Saint-Malo to stay with her mysterious great-uncle who lives in a house by the sea. Marie-Laure’s father, a museum worker, is devoted to her well-being and education. In Paris he constructed a miniature exact replica of their neighbourhood so that Marie-Laure could learn through feeling the replica, the details of the neighbourhood she could not see.

Meanwhile in Germany, Werner has a hard life where he lives in an orphanage with his younger sister. It quickly becomes apparent that Werner has a brilliant mind and wants to become a scientist, but like all the other boys around him, he is told he will be sent to work in a coal mine when he turns 15. Through an impressive feat of determination he earns the attention of a Nazi official by repairing a radio, and is given the opportunity to attend a military school. At only 16, Werner joins a special unit responsible for locating and destroying anti-German radio broadcasts. This is what leads him to Saint-Malo and to Marie-Laure.

All the Light We Cannot See is a deeply moving novel told with vivid descriptions of place and time. Your book club will find many things to talk about – from a father’s love hidden as a secret inside a miniature replica, to what people in desperate times will do to help one another, perhaps even their enemies.

Happy Reading! Sue, Best New Book Club

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