This absorbing story set in Germany and France before and during the German occupation of France is a page-turner at its best. Beautifully written, this emotional story is of two ordinary children swallowed in the horror of World War 11.
The two main players are: Marie-Laure a shy and resourceful blind girl who has learned to navigate the streets of her quartier in Paris, has mastered Braille and is very fond of Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand leagues Under the Sea”. Her and her father fled the city for Saint-Malo when the Nazis invaded France in 1940, at the time unknown to Marie-Laure, her father was entrusted by his boss, the museum’s curator with a treasure, the “Sea of Flames”, a priceless 133 carat diamond with a legend of immortality. A treasure that will be highly sought by the Nazis……
Werner Pfennig who is a German orphan with a natural affinity for circuitry one who can repair any broken short-wave radio that comes his way. Listening to the voice he soon becomes entranced by the lessons he mysteriously hears turning the dial. His passion for the ins and outs of the mechanics brings him to Nazi military elite training school. There he will breathe nation, live discipline and eventually sacrifice his life to the Wehrmacht.
The narrative is disciplined and flips between the two stories, it jumps forward and back in time, eventually weaves together and wraps up all the threads beautifully. The chapters are short and the prose is polished, very close to poetry, each sentence is finely crafted and very elegant….maybe a bit too much and the beauty of this may be slightly distracting. Once I got used to this vigorous style I was propelled onward and enjoyed every moment. The characters are multifaceted, very few to dislike and most are the heart of an engrossing journey where they are the center point. This novel is definitely narrative driven and does so expertly.
On a final note, “ All the Light We Cannot See” orbits around the nature of sacrifice and spotlights history with all the barbarism of war, its sights and sounds, in a vivid imaginary manner only a master story teller can express.