All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

Review – “A remarkable listening experience”

What a wonderfully well written story, and a fine narrator. I find it refreshing when the narration is done simply, without changing the voice significantly for different characters. For me, this is much less distracting than a male making his voice light and high for female characters, and vice versa for a woman narrator. What a pleasure this book was, in every way. I will probably listen to it again some day.


all the light we can not seeAll the Light We Cannot See is Anthony Doerr’s most ambitious, elaborate, and dazzling novel yet. Set during World War II, the novel expertly interweaves the lives of a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and an orphaned German boy, Werner, whose paths collide as they try to survive the physical and emotional destruction of the war. Built on an intricate, labyrinthine structure, the novel presents the gradually-intersecting stories of all those within it, the relationships that hold them together and the journeys each character undertakes.

At the novel’s opening, Marie Laure lives with her father in an apartment in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural history where he works as the master of the locks (there are 20,000 in the museum). When she is nine, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole so she can memorize it with her fingers and teach her feet to walk the real space. When the Germans occupy Paris, they flee to Saint Malo on the Brittany coast where Marie-Laure’s great uncle, severely agoraphobic, lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world, in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at the elite and heinously brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of radio-active Hitler Youth to the far flung outskirts of Russia, and finally onto France, comforted by recollections from his childhood and letters to Jutta. In Saint Malo, Werner and Marie-Laure meet.

Doerr’s gorgeous and precise observations of the world are equaled by his soaring imagination. This stunning novel is about puzzles, seashells, the walled city of Saint-Malo, a fabled diamond, the power of radio, and the ways, against all odds, we try to be good to one another.

Play Sample

  • Written by: Anthony Doerr
  • Narrated by: Zach Appelman
  • Length: 16 hrs and 2 mins

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