All the Light We Cannot See (Book Review)

I read some really great books this summer. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of not-good books out there. I thought I’d write up a few reviews of the good ones I’ve read this summer for any of my readers who are looking for new material to dig into.

I’ve got a variety of genres that I’ll be reviewing, so if you’re not into fiction, don’t despair, there’s more to come. The first book I’m reviewing is the most recent one I’ve read, and one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. By the way, I use the word reviewing very lightly. I suppose I am more recommending, as I am not getting too deep into themes etc.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Genre: historical fiction

Recommended for age 18+

531 pages (It’s long!)

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All the Light We Cannot See is a story about a blind girl living in France, and an orphaned German boy whose extraordinary technical skills land him in training academy for Hitler Youth. Their stories intersect in the citadel of Saint-Malo. I don’t want to divulge much of the plot should you choose to read it 🙂

From the book cover: “Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.”

This would be a fantastic novel for a book club! I found I wanted to read it slowly to enjoy the beautiful imagery, but I was compelled to read quickly, spurred on by the suspense.

There is rough language in this book, but it is not excessive or glorified.

My favourite part of reading this novel was the unpredictability. I was never at the point where I just knew how it was going to turn out. The characters are very real, and relatable. I would rate it at 4.5/5 stars 😉 (One part I didn’t like was surrounding a jewel called the “Sea of Flames”. It wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t sure if the story was going to go all science-fiction-y on me; it doesn’t, so now you can enjoy it, knowing that 😉

Here are two short excerpts to give you an idea of the writing style:

Zero

7 August 1944

Leaflets

At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town, they say. Depart immediately to open country.
The tide climbs. The moon hangs small and yellow and gibbous. On the rooftops of beachfront hotels to the east, and in the gardens behind them, a half-dozen American artillery units drop incendiary rounds into the mouths of mortars.

—–

From The Girl

She eases open the left-hand shutter and runs her fingers up the slats of the right. A sheet of paper has lodged there.
She holds it to her nose. It smells of fresh ink. Gasoline, maybe. The paper is crisp; it has not been outside long.
Marie-Laure hesitates at the window in her stocking feet, her bedroom behind her, seashells arranged along the top of the armoire, pebbles along the baseboards. Her can stands in the corner; her big Braille novel waits facedown on the bed. The drone of the airplanes grows.

Let me know if you read it, or have read it!

*Feel free to comment with what you’re reading! I’d love to hear some suggestions since my book list has depleted 🙂

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

One nice thing of having a large family of readers is recommending recently read good books to each other. One series that was suggested to Dan and I is the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

It took me a while to get into the first book– I felt a little bit like nothing was happening. However, I’m now on the third and appreciate the style, stories, and humour.

You know it’s a good book when you always want to grab a journal and write down quotes. This is true in the case of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. Here are a few that I would have written in my journal if I wasn’t too lazy to get up 🙂 The perfect mixture of funny, serious, and perfectly accurate:

Book 1:

Now constipation was quite a different matter…It would be dreadful for the whole world to know about troubles of that nature. She felt terribly sorry for people who suffered from constipation, and she knew that there were many who did. There were probably enough of them to form a political party – with a chance of government perhaps – but what would such a party do if it was in power? Nothing, she imagined. It would try to pass legislation, but would fail.

We don’t forget, thought Mma Ramotswe. Our heads may be small, but they are as full of memories as the sky may sometimes be full of swarming bees, thousands and thousands of memories, of smells, of places, of little things that happened to us and which came back, unexpectedly, to remind us who we are.

Who is there to write down the lives of ordinary people?

Book 2:

“You are a fortunate man,” said the jeweller. “Not every man can find such a cheerful, fat woman to marry. There are many thin, hectoring women around today. This one will make you very happy.”

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni acknowledged the compliment. “Yes,” he said, “I am a very lucky man.”

“And now you must buy her a very big ring,” went on the jeweller. “A fat woman cannot wear a tiny ring.”

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni looked down at his shoes.

Now if you can’t appreciate any of the above quotes, I’m afraid we wouldn’t get along very well…