“Never stop believing.” –
Journey No wait, Anthony Doerr, in All the Light We Cannot See
Marie Laure is a blind French girl who adores the novels of Jules Verne. Werner is a German orphan and engineering whizz who makes his way into the army. The book alternates between their experiences during the course of World War II. The story is engaging, and the prose is lovely. As Sara Nelson at Amazon wrote, “This is not a book you read for plot…This is a book you read for the beauty of Doerr’s writing.” It took home the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
I enjoyed it but didn’t adore it. The plot had a few too many coincidences and I just never got completely caught up in it.
I listened to the audiobook, which was capably narrated by Zach Appelman, but I really wish the audiobook had used two narrators, a man for Werner and a woman for Marie Laure. Having only a male narrator gave the subtle (and probably unintended) impression that the story was more from Werner’s perspective, despite the fact that Marie Laure is a wonderful protagonist who more than holds her own.
Here are a few bits that I noted:
On looking up from my smartphone: “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
On Journey: “You must never stop believing. That’s the most important thing.”
On being awesome: “Don’t you want to be alive before you die?”
On science: “Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.” (Jules Verne, quoted here)
On naive interpretations of others’ experience: “To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness.”
On the world beyond sight: “Beneath your world of skies and faces and buildings exists a rawer and older world, a place where surface planes disintegrate and sounds ribbon in shoals through the air.”
On what a bibliophile is thinking as she hides in the basement after her house is bombed: “If only she had brought her novel down with her.”
And here are books that figure prominently within the book:
- Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
- The Principles of Mechanics, by Heinrich Hertz
- The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin
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