I gave this book to my mum a couple of Christmases ago, and she highly recommended that I read it, telling me that she wanted the book back once I’d finished because it was one she wanted to keep. She, like me, treasures the good books we read, and collect them in the hope that we will one day reread them, though very rarely do.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was the winner of the Pulitzer Price for Fiction in 2015. Deservedly.
The story is confronting in many ways, the characters endearing. A story of survival for both our main characters – a blind girl in occupied France, and an orphan boy in Germany who gets swept up in the training of Nazi boys in the early 1940s.
But the writing, more than the story got me. If the story had been written by anyone else, without the exquisite language, it would have been mediocre. Just another voice from WWII, which is so rich with many worthwhile stories or survival.
Although some of the testimonials admired the satisfying conclusion, I think the story could have ended with the end of the war, and didn’t need the follow ups about life afterwards. I would have liked to have imagine my own future for the characters.
The short chapters keep the pace moving. The parts of the book jumped back and forward in time a few times, but it was easy enough to follow. The little details make the characters have great depth – the hobbies and obsessions that they have which Anthony Doerr must have researched himself with great care.
The descriptions used a unique, the turns of phrase refreshing, almost like English is not this author’s first language. The space that the writer leaves for the imagination is wonderful, and allows for the swirling emotions to play out. Again, this is why I think the ending could have been earlier.
But even with the ending, the bittersweet satisfaction of a good read has lingered with me for a few days since finishing this book. It has rekindled my desire to read more great literature and good fiction.