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Book Review|All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

NAME: All The Light We Cannot See

AUTHOR: Anthony Doerr

GENRE: Historical Fiction


COUNTRY: United States


PAGES: 531

MY RATING: 10/10 ( unputdownable, page-turner, intriguing)


  • “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
  • “What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.”
  • “You know the greatest lesson of history? Its that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history.”
  • “Isn’t life a kind of corruption? A child is born, and the world sets in upon it. Taking things from it, stuffing things into it.”
  • “God’s truth? How long do these moments last for God? A trillionth of a second? The very life of any creature is a quick-fading spark in fathomless darkness. That’s God’s truth.”
  • “What the war did to dreamers.”

NOTE: This is a spoiler free review. The views are solely mine.


All The Light We Cannot See is a Historical fiction novel written by the American author- Anthony Doerr. It was 2014’s one of the most eminent and noteworthy works and it sat on the New York Times Bestsellers List for a long time. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. An absolute page-turner and an extremely alluring book!

This beautiful narrative is about two ordinary children- a blind French girl and an albino German boy who eventually and inadvertently cross paths in occupied France as both of them are engulfed into the horror of World War II and try to survive the devastation of the global war.


The story is written in a non-linear fashion and covers the years 1934-2014…

It’s 1934. Marie-Laurie Le Blanc lives in Paris and is six years old when she loses her eyesight and for the first time learns about the priceless “Sea of Flames”- an accursed gemstone with a brilliant blue color and a touch of red at it’s center which lays hidden for the past 200 years in the vaults of the National Museum of Natural History, where Marie’s father, Daniel Le Blanc works as the principle locksmith.  Marie shares a very tender and solicitous relationship with her father. Her father builds her a small and an artistic model of the city in which they live, gets her books in Braille, makes her solve ingenious  puzzles and tries his best to make Marie-Laurie capable of living life on her own. Her father, with strong dedication and utmost determination, tries to make sure that nothing stops his little chérie from pursuing her dreams and flying high.

Sea of Flames

Werner Pfennig is an eight year old German albino boy who lives with his sister Jutta at an orphanage in Zollverein, Germany. Since his very childhood, Werner has been extremely inquisitive and agog about things going on around him. He shows great enthusiasm and love for radios, transmitters, electronics and mathematics which eventually leads him to acquire schooling in the National Political Institutes of Education. Though he’s thrilled to escape the sentence of working in the mines and dying young like his father, and is delighted to be able to study in the open and tinker with the radios, Werner gradually finds himself all caught up and cornered in the brutality and malevolence of the premier school of Hitler’s Youth.

Hitler’s Youth and Nazi Education

In 1940 as the German hostility advances and Marie and her father, who has been entrusted with the “Sea of Flames”, escape Paris and take shelter in Saint Malo where Marie’s great uncle, Etienne Le Blanc resides, their lives take an unexpected and unsolicited turn and Marie-Laurie some years down the line bumps into the eighteen year old, field expert, Werner Pfennig.

Saint Malo WWII

What happens next? Will Werner and Marie be able to survive the devastation of the global war? Can they succeed against all odds? Or shall they give into their wretched fate? Shall the “Sea of Flames” cast it’s spell?


Anthony Doerr (age 45), raised in Cleveland, Ohio, attended the Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he majored in history and graduated in 1995.


Doerr’s first published book was a collection of short stories called The Shell Collector (2002). He wrote another book of short stories called Memory Wall (2010). His first novel, About Grace, was released in 2004. Doerr then wrote a memoir, Four Seasons in Rome, which was published in 2007. Doerr’s second novel, All the Light We Cannot See, set in occupied France during World War II, gained him widespread recognition and popularity.

Here’s one really interesting video from the author talking about what went into the book’s creation:


It will take me one whole day if I get to start talking about this book in particular.  There are so many entangled feelings and emotions harboring in me rn that it becomes hard to express myself, really. My heart aches, I am totally bewitched and it’s gonna take me a while before I start reading another book! I simply loved everything about this book.  The chapters are short, hardly 2-3 pages long and it makes sure that no reader develops a sense of apathy while proceeding. I loved how Doerr gave a clear insight into the world of Marie-Laurie and Werner Pfennig. I could literally get blind, for a moment, like Marie and feel the things just as she did! Nazi Germany, it’s hostility, malevolence, the lives of the innocents lost, love and power, everything allured me to such an extent that it left me in a complete state of melancholia and tears. This book is certainly not a conventional war story. There’s so much more to it! The radiant beauty of the prose and the intricate details of the things going around, add up to the fine quality of the novel. It was like I am experiencing the haunting era of the WWII. I guess that’s the power of writing. Isn’t it?

It took me 5 days to complete the book and 3 days to be done with the review. I literally restrained myself from writing too much and giving out the spoilers. When you a love a book so much, then it gets really hard to express your feelings about it! You fall out of the correct words and actually fail to explain how you feel about it!! And that’s what is happening with me rn lol.

I am sure this novel would indeed be a piece of luck for anyone with a long plane journey or a beach holiday ahead. This is a complete page-turner, certainly unputdownable and an entirely absorbing piece of work! I can’t thank the author much for giving me this priceless experience! You guys won’t believe how desperately I want you people to read it! Recommending this novel to all the book lovers out there and even if you aren’t comfortable with the genre, then trust me it wasn’t my genre too until I read this one! I’m sure this particular narrative shall not disappoint you in any way!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review 

If you have already enjoyed reading this book then don’t forget to drop down your thoughts in the comment section below. If you are yet to read the book then grab it up asap! You wouldn’t want to miss this one!

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Twitter: @bibliosmiacDS

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Goodreads account: Devyani

Categories Book Review, historical fiction, nazi germany, nazism, WWIITags , , ,

2 thoughts on “Book Review|All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

  1. Lovely review!
    This is one of my most favourite books from the WW2 era! I am glad you enjoyed it so much!!


    1. Thanks!! Great to hear that it’s one of your favorite books too!


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