Saturday, October 29, 2016

Books: All the light we cannot see

It has been over seventy years since the World War II has ended. Numerous writers have devoted a lot of literary ink on this topic. So how does a novel set in this ear appeal to you? I approached it with skepticism. There were some interesting points in the beaten to death theme. The story unfolds in the walled city of Saint-Malo, a picturesque location but an unlikely setting for a novel. The main protagonists are a blind French girl and a German boy. On the outset, it looks like a love story combined with the coming of age. I was right about the latter part. Was I right about the former part, find out for yourself.

Marie-Laure grows in Paris. She loses her eyesight due to cataracts and depends on replicas made by her locksmith dad to move around the city. When the war breaks out, the father and daughter move to Saint-Malo where the girl's great-uncle lives. Werner is an orphan in the town of Zollverein in Germany. His interest in radio devices takes him to special training camps and all over Europe before Werner descends into the city of Saint-Malo. How are these two people linked?

Anthony Doerr has already the won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for this book. In this novel, Anthony Doerr explores the tragedy of conflict and war. It is in aspect the author can find the similarity to the chaotic world of today. The protagonists are victims of chances. They are children, and their belief system is developing. They are thrust into the world of conflict aiding the opposite sides. The author uses the Allied bombing of the walled city to segregate two clear timelines, lives before and after the war. During the initial part of the book, the author flips back and forth between the past of the characters and what happens in Saint-Malo during the fateful day. This technique keeps us on edge. The post-war section makes us melancholic.

At 545 pages in the Kindle edition, the number of pages is more than that of a regular book. Keep this fact in mind when picking up the book. This book details human emotions. So it is more of a book for which you have to devote time to savor it.


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