Standalone Sunday: All the Light We Cannot See


Standalone Sunday is a weekly feature created by Megan at Bookslayer Reads which aims to showcase standalone books which you loved or would recommend.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

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. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

Before picking up All the Light We Cannot See the only other book I’d read set during World War II was The Book Thief. If you’ve read The Book Thief then you know how moving, how amazing, how beautifully written the book is, and you can probably also guess how I wondered whether All the Light We Cannot See could live up to all that. It more than did. This book tells the story of Marie-Laure and Werner, both children standing on different sides of the war and both who have a heartbreaking story that needs to be told.

“The bony figure of Death rides the streets below, stopping his mount now and then to peer into windows. Horns of fire on his head and smoke leaking from his nostrils and, in his skeletal hands, a list newly charged with addresses. Gazing first at the crew of officers unloading from their limousines into the chateau.

Then at the flowing rooms of the perfumer Claude Levitte.

Then at the dark tall house of Etienne LeBlanc.

Pass us by, Horseman. Pass this house by.”

You can check out my review for All the Light We Cannot See here.

What did you think of All the Light We Cannot See? Have you read it yet or is it still on your to-read list? Let me know in the comments and let me know if you took part in this week’s Standalone Sunday as well.

31 thoughts on “Standalone Sunday: All the Light We Cannot See

  1. I have thought about reading this book but my head is filled with stories from the war from my great grandmother and I treasure them immensely. I know no book will have the same effect so I feel it better to try those books when I feel ready and open 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s kind of an amazing way to look at it Donna. I don’t know many stories from the war like what I’ve read in books. I know some people who were alive during WWII though and I’ve spoken with them a little about what they went through, I guess the books just offered a different perspective on the time for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was recommended this one a while back while talking to another blogger about historical fiction and how I haven’t read a lot within the genre. I definitely want to read this (and The Book Theif) in the future. I’ve watched quite a few movies set during World War II but I think the only books I’ve read set during the time was when I was in elementary school. So, I can’t remember those too clearly. Great pick for this week, Beth! 😊♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In that case I’ll recommend this one to you as well (and definitely The Book Thief as well, that is my favourite historical fiction novel and you need to read it Melissa, it’s amazing!)
      I wouldn’t say I’ve seen a lot of films on WWII, and I definitely haven’t read many books on the topic either, but I kept seeing rave reviews for this one around the time I picked it up and I just had to see what all the fuss was about.
      Thanks Melissa, I really hope you enjoy this book if/when you pick it up! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, what a great meme! Standalone novels are DEFINITELY my favorite kinds of books. Especially to review on my blog. I just finished a book that’s a sequel and I’m not sure how I”m going to review it because most people haven’t even read the first book. And it’s a review copy from the publisher! lol Oh well, I will manage somehow.

    All The Light We Cannot See is definitely on my 2017. It sounds brilliant and I know I’ll love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an amazing meme, and a great way to highlight standalone novels too because they don’t seem to get as much love as series do!
      I find it easier to review standalones too, just because you don’t have to be as careful with spoilers. Normally for sequels I put a warning at the beginning just letting people know this is a review for a sequel and there may be spoilers for previous books and then go on to review it like I would any other book.
      It’s definitely an amazing book, and I really hope you love it as well! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really need to read this one! It’s one of Jenna’s favourites and it sounds like such a good book, but I’ve kind of avoided it bc anything to do with real history sometimes makes me feel depressed… and I’m just not often in the mood for sad WWII stories. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d highly recommend it Reg, All the Light We Cannot See is one of my favourites as well when it comes to historical fiction. This is definitely not a light book, I guess that’s kind of going to be the way with any book set during WWII isn’t it though? I’d wait until you’re in the right mood before picking this one up but I do hope you enjoy it! 🙂


  5. I haven’t read this one! Does it mention the concentration camps and the Jews? I like books that remind us of the atrocities of WWII and the loss of so many Jewish people. My family was lucky and all of us were in the US by then. But many of my family originated from Russia and Poland. So my last name is Jewish from my dad’s side of the family. My mom was Catholic but converted when she married my dad, then converted back when she divorced him.
    Great choice! Adding to the TBR!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it probably touches on them but the story doesn’t revolve around the concentration camps and the jews. I think if you like books that remind you of the atrocities of WWII then this is definitely one I’d recommend. It’s certainly a powerful read.
      That’s lucky your family were in the US by then. I know my family were still in England during WWII, my nan was actually a nurse during the war but she didn’t really speak about it much, which is understandable I guess, must have not been the nicest time to be alive!
      Thanks so much Stephanie, I really hope you enjoy this book. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds right up my alley.
        Oh, that’s so cool though that she was a nurse. Understandable that she wouldn’t talk about it much…she prob saw her share of pain. What a strong woman during that time! You should be proud!
        I never even think of the UK during WWII. I just recently read some WWI poetry in my Lit of War class this semester, and it was, how do you guys say, “brilliant.” I loved Owen Wilson and his poem Dulce De Decorum Est (Pro Patrio Mori).
        (I might have butchered that but it’s essentially close lol).
        You know I never read Night by Wiesel? When I was in school we read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, but Night hadn’t been published yet. Have you read it?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In that case I really do hope you enjoy it. It is a heavy book though so I’d wait until you’re in the right mood before picking it up
        I am proud of her, she must have seen a lot while she was alive and I just can’t imagine being around when something like that was going on. Learning about it in school was horrific enough but to actually have lived through it.
        I like to think the UK played a pretty major role during WWII. 🙂 But I guess it depends on how your lessons were when you learnt about it in school as to how you think about it now you know? I tend to not think of Germany so much during WWII. I will check out that poem. I’m sure the title is close enough to correct, enough for me to do a google search at least! 😀
        I haven’t no, in terms of books I’ve read set during WWII I haven’t picked up many but I’ll definitely check out Night. Thanks Stephanie! 🙂


  6. I love WWII but haven’t read this one yet although it is definitely on my TBR! I’ve heard nothing but great things about this book, so I have high hopes. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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