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All the Light We Cannot See Hardcover – January 1, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 34,081 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: Does the world need yet another novel about WWII? It does when the novel is as inventive and beautiful as this one by Anthony Doerr. In fact, All the Light We Cannot See--while set mostly in Germany and France before and during the war--is not really a “war novel”. Yes, there is fear and fighting and disappearance and death, but the author’s focus is on the interior lives of his two characters. Marie Laure is a blind 14-year-old French girl who flees to the countryside when her father disappears from Nazi-occupied Paris. Werner is a gadget-obsessed German orphan whose skills admit him to a brutal branch of Hitler Youth. Never mind that their paths don’t cross until very late in the novel, this is not a book you read for plot (although there is a wonderful, mysterious subplot about a stolen gem). This is a book you read for the beauty of Doerr’s writing-- “Abyss in her gut, desert in her throat, Marie-Laure takes one of the cans of food…”--and for the way he understands and cherishes the magical obsessions of childhood. Marie Laure and Werner are never quaint or twee. Instead they are powerful examples of the way average people in trying times must decide daily between morality and survival. --Sara Nelson

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*Starred Review* A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall—and long—­narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.High-Demand Backstory: A multipronged marketing campaign will make the author’s many fans aware of his newest book, and extensive review coverage is bound to enlist many new fans. --Brad Hooper

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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
34,081 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on May 11, 2018
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Top international reviews

Lady Vibart
5.0 out of 5 stars A page turning, brilliantly sensitive story of courage, love and the cruelty of war, studded with characters we all recognise!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 16, 2018
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M. Faulkner
5.0 out of 5 stars Steel yourself, this one really tugs at the heart strings.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 18, 2016
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Ashwini A.
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-read
Reviewed in India on May 16, 2018
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Kaffmatt
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Account Of The Occupation of France in WW2
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 7, 2018
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Peter Best
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 20, 2017
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3.0 out of 5 stars I just lost the plot
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 21, 2018
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Mr. Tempo
1.0 out of 5 stars Kids might like it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 18, 2020
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Kee Lady
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5* Beautifully Written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 29, 2018
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Mig Bardsley
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read. Highly recommend.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 2, 2018
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Mrs EJ Blackwell-Combe
2.0 out of 5 stars Unrewarding.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 21, 2018
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Mrs. Kimberley J. Barnetson
5.0 out of 5 stars Please read this book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 17, 2016
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andy
2.0 out of 5 stars Started well but became a chore
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 5, 2020
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Aldebs
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 13, 2018
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Winifred
4.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful book about two young people in WW2 from an original perspective
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 9, 2019
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JaquiP
4.0 out of 5 stars Achingly sad and beautifully written.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2018
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