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All the Light There Was Hardcover – March 12, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547939949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547939940
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Part of the Armenian refugee community in Paris during WWII, teenager Maral knows not to make trouble when the Nazis occupy the city, and she’s scared when her older brother joins the Resistance with his friend, Zaven. Even as bombs fall, spies are everywhere, her parents take in a Jewish child, and she is always hungry, Maral worries about getting a good haircut and plucking her eyebrows to be hot for Zaven when they secretly make love. Then he is deported to Buchenwald. The first-person narrative nails the blend of daily detail and political history, as Maral loses her naïveté and realizes that lies and secrecy are the highest good and honesty is betrayal. Her parents do not talk about the massacre that drove them from home, but it is always there. The period immediately after the war is just as intense. Zaven does not return. Can Maral forgive herself for kissing Andon, who wears a German Wehrmacht uniform? An important addition to the WWII fiction shelves, this is bound to spark discussion. --Hazel Rochman

Review

"All the Light There Was offers a vivid picture of life for a minority family in occupied Paris, and author Kricorian effortlessly takes the reader from one year to the next….A pleasure to read."
—Historical Novel Society

"Beautifully conjured… Kricorian’s touch is light, but the residual impact of war is nonetheless palpable."
—Eleanor J. Bader, In These Times

"Immersive as quicksand."
—Portland Book Review

"Moving. . . With a bittersweet love story, examples of everyday heroism, and a community refusing to give in to tyrants, Kricorian's work sheds even more light on the German occupation of France."
Library Journal

"The first-person narrative nails the blend of daily detail and political history. . . . An important addition to the WWII fiction shelves, this is bound to spark discussion."
Booklist

"Solid and touching. Readers are instantly drawn into this world, full of hardships of wartime occupation and references to the Armenian genocide of the previous generation. Thanks to multifaceted characters, Kricorian’s treatment of family dynamics and love under extreme circumstances creates an emotional read."

--Publishers Weekly


"Nancy Kricorian is a gem, her work subtle and nuanced and moving. All the Light There Was brings Nazi-occupied Paris vividly, tragically, and heroically to life."
—Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls and Midwives

"Love blooms just as war tears two people apart…Kricorian’s rendering makes good on its promise of drama [and]….her heroine’s resilience is exciting."—The New York Times

More About the Author

Nancy Kricorian is the author of the novels ZABELLE (1998), DREAMS OF BREAD AND FIRE (2003), and ALL THE LIGHT THERE WAS (2013). Kricorian grew up in the Armenian community of Watertown, Massachusetts, and earned her undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College; she spent the following year studying semiotics at the University of Paris-Jussieu. After completing a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry at Columbia University, Kricorian taught at Yale, Rutgers, Barnard and Queens Colleges. She subsequently worked for ten years as a literary scout for foreign publishers, and since 2003 has been on the staff of CODEPINK Women for Peace. She lives in New York City with her family.

Customer Reviews

This story stayed with me long after I finished reading it.
Miss Tamar Haytayan
As the story progresses, we will learn of yet another suitor and Maral must choose between a sense of duty and the potential for true love.
The Good Life
It's so beautifully written and it's so easy to get drawn in to the story and the characters.
Elizabeth Falzone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The best stories illustrating the hardship and suffering of war are personal, and that's how All the Light There Was begins. For Maral Pegorian's family in occupied Paris, the war is about hunger, curfews and boredom. When Maral's Jewish neighbors are being rounded up by Germans, Maral's family -- survivors of the Armenian Genocide -- hide a neighbor's baby. Similar scenes have been written many times before, and this one highlights the problem with the Nancy Kricorian's novel: for the most part, Maral is nothing more than an observer describing events from which she often seems distant. When the war finally has a predictable impact on Maral's life, it does so in a way that seems forced.

The members of Maral's family are familiar: the sullen, proverb-spouting father, the tearful/fearful mother, the spinster aunt, the reckless brother. In her desire to illustrate the importance of family in Armenian culture, Kricorian gives scant attention to the individuality of family members. Each member plays a defined role but no member behaves in a surprising or unexpected way. They give each other hope, and Kricorian's point seems to be that families exist for that purpose. It's a valid point, but again, a point that has been made many times in similar ways.

What Maral knows of the war, or for that matter of her boyfriend's fate when he is captured after playing a murky role in the French Resistance, comes from her brother Missak, whose role in the novel is to disappear for awhile and then reappear with a news bulletin. The novel might have been more engrossing if it had been built around Missak, who at least seems to know what's going on around him.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By alice slater on March 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All the Light There Was

Nancy Kricorian's third novel, All The Light There Was, creates a vivid and moving picture of occupied Paris during World War II, telling the story of an Armenian immigrant community adjusting to life in exile after the awful Turkish slaughter of the Armenians. In the shadow of the Nazi holocaust, we learn about an earlier holocaust and the compassion that engenders in the surviving Armenians, watching their Jewish neighbors and friends disappearing under Hitler's onslaught. A haunting story, told in the first person by a young teenage girl, Maral, who grows older and wiser, finds friends and loses them, falls in love, gets caught up in the terror of war and all the grinding scarcity that follows--her family measuring their lives in small triumphs of survival--acquiring an egg-laying hen, to soften the relentless diet of root vegetables and the paucity of food, triumphing in small ways as the horrors of war alter their lives irrevocably.

Kricorian has a genuine feel for the times and for the Armenian immigrant experience in Paris. She recreates that frightful era with authenticity, skillfully giving us their language, aphorisms, culture, making us taste their food, feel their pain, understand their struggles, while interweaving her story with humor and poignancy as she spins a graceful tale with haunting characters. Kricorian's great mastery of descriptive prose and the stunning events covered in this novel are well worth a read. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Abel VINE VOICE on August 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When Joyce Carol Oates praises a book, I take notice. Oates' comments on the author's beautiful prose led me to choose a book I typically would not have read. Why? Well, the issue I have with this book is one all too common with 'embittered minority struggling in times of war' stories. The characters are literally the same from book to book: the brother who is rebellious and naive about the impact he is capable of having, the passive and ever sorrowful mother, and the bitter father who struggles to retain his grasp on the 'old ways'. While I sympathize I have a hard time holding interest in a story as the same characters deal with the same struggles.

The character of Maral was likable but not quite remarkable. Through her eyes we see the harsh realities of an Armenian living in occupied Paris and the personal toll of war. With the war as a backdrop, Maral comes of age. All the Light There Was is not only a novel of suffering, it is also about hope and 'light'.

I have to give credit to the author for her lovely prose; about that, Oates was dead-on. Occupied Paris and the experiences of the Pegorian family and the other refugees come to life with Kricorian's rich imagery. Ultimately All the Light There Was tells an important story and tells it beautifully. The problem is that it is a story that has been told many times before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Quido VINE VOICE on January 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Armenians threated with destruction and extinction by political forces in Turkey fled for Paris in pre-WWII. The Pegorians are such a family; for fourteen year old Maral, as Paris becomes occupied by the Nazis, she watches as a bystander in rue de Belleville as her Jewish friends and neighbors are victimized. Hunger, deprivation and boredom infect the whole quarter of the city, even though the Armenian community is not disappearing, as are the Jews. The danger for Maral becomes real when her brothers and young love, Zaven, get swept up by the Resistance and are transported out of the country when caught.

Kricorian is a writer that draws a straight line of a story, but there are many touching moments as she tells the tale of how Maral and her family survive, how she comes of age, what becomes of her. Kricorian is an able illustrator of the Armenian culture, and it is my understanding she plans a 6 or 7 book fictional illustration of what becomes of her people in the throes of history. Should be an interesting series of reads.

As others have said, while a good read, this book might also be an interesting introduction to the period for young readers.
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