‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a beautiful haunting novel that allows you to completely immerse yourself in the story and the lives of the main characters.
The story follows two characters through WWII. Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a girl who has been blind from the age of 6. She lives in Paris with her father who is chief locksmith at the natural history museum and in his spare time crafts intricate wooden boxes, including a detailed model of their neighbourhood that Marie-Laure can study to find her way around.
Werner Pfennig is an orphan boy who lives with his sister in a small orphan home in a mining village in Germany. He is fascinated with radios and teaches himself to build and repair them. Listening to the radio gives him and his sister Jutta access to a more beautiful world.
During the war, Marie-Laure and her father flee Paris to the walled city of Saint-Malo to stay in a tall house by the sea with mad great uncle Etienne. Marie-Laure’s father has been given one of the museum’s prized possessions to take with him to hide.
Werner’s talent with radios allows him to enter an elite Hitler youth school and he uses this to escape going down the mines that killed his father. His ambition is to get to the technical labs of Berlin but he must suffer the school’s brutality and brainwashing first. He ends up, at the age of 16, working with the Wermacht to track resistance radio stations.
Eventually their lives intersect in Saint-Malo along with a mad and dying German sergeant who is trying to trace the treasure from the museum before he dies.
This novel was incredibly beautifully written and we were able to experience the world of both Marie-Laure and Werner – the beauty, suffering and horror.
The ending was realistic – there was no ‘happily ever after’, just the pains and sorrow that people who lived through the war experienced for the rest of their lives.
This is a novel to be savoured slowly.
Book Published 2014