All The Light We Cannot see” by Anthony Doerr

All The Light We Cannot see” by Anthony Doerr 

"This is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer whose sentences never fail to thrall" The Guardian.

Remarkably our whole group concurred with this quotation and during our discussion we ran out of superlatives to describe this brilliantly written book. The story is set in Nazi Germany where we follow the story of Werner Pfenning during his years in an orphanage with his sister Jutta and subsequently, having displayed exceptional talent for wiring electronics Werner wins a place at an elite but brutal academy for the training of The Hitler Youth. It is at the academy that he befriends Frederick who as a gentle character is bullied and finally brutalised.

Doerr cleverly intertwines Werner’s life with the story of a blind girl, Marie — Laure and her father, who live originally in Paris from where during the Nazi Occupation they flee to her uncle’s home in Saint Malo. Her father is deported to a work camp in Germany and she is left behind during the intense bombing of Saint Malo following the D Day landings. Doerr’s commitment to detail to the travails of a blind youngster surviving the difficulties of relocating to a new area is quite remarkable and the group felt that her character gave us an insight into life for so many people in Europe in the later stages of the Second World War. It is in Saint Malo that the paths of the two main characters collide as they both struggle to survive the devastation of the war.

The only detrimental part of the story was Doerr’s over use of Americanisms and perhaps owing to an overuse of adjectives the book may be over long. Ten years in the writing this book deserved to win The Pulitzer Prize and having awarded the book ten out of ten we would recommend it as a real page turner.

As usual we concluded our meeting with great hospitality and superb ginger cake!