War has broken out. A blind girl, Marie-Laure, flees Paris with her museum-employee father. They may – or may not – be carrying with them a priceless jewel, the Sea of Flames. In Germany, orphan Werner, who has an uncanny ability to mend radio transmission equipment, is plucked from his children’s home – separating him from his younger sister – to become part of the Hitler Youth. Sergeant Major von Rumpel, increasingly incapacitated by a terminal illness, is charged with hunting down treasures for display in the Führer’s projected super-museum. These three lives will converge in August 1944 at Number 4 rue Vauborel, Saint-Malo, as US planes bombard the town and its ancient ramparts.
Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel strips its protagonists of their sight – literally and metaphorically – and allows us to engage with them increasingly through the senses of touch and hearing. He ratchets up the tension by using short chapters, moving rapidly from one character to another across time and across countries, immersing the reader in the grimness of life during World War II. And yet this is also the most unlikely – and affecting – of love stories, in which hope, even for the briefest of moments, will make its mark for decades to come. Recommended.
Reviewed by a Library member. We have a copy of All the Light We Cannot See in the Library.