All the Light We Cannot See

  • by Anthony Doerr
  • Narrated by Julie Teal
  • 17 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

National Book Award Finalist
New York Times Bestseller

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel 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, from the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr.
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

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What the Critics Say

"This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece ... Doerr's writing and imagery are stunning. It's been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion." (Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone)
"All the Light We Cannot See is a dazzling, epic work of fiction. Anthony Doerr writes beautifully about the mythic and the intimate, about snails on beaches and armies on the move, about fate and love and history and those breathless, unbearable moments when they all come crashing together." (Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins)
"Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet. He knows about everything - radios, diamonds, mollusks, birds, flowers, locks, guns - but he also writes a line so beautiful, creates an image or scene so haunting, it makes you think forever differently about the big things - love, fear, cruelty, kindness, the countless facets of the human heart ... Doerr's new novel is that novel, the one you savor, and ponder, and happily lose sleep over, then go around urging all your friends to read - now." (J.R. Moehringer, author of Sutton and The Tender Bar)
"A tender exploration of this world's paradoxes; the beauty of the laws of nature and the terrible ends to which war subverts them; the frailty and the resilience of the human heart; the immutability of a moment and the healing power of time ... A compelling and uplifting novel." (M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans)
"[All the Light We Cannot See] presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending... Highly recommended for fans of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient." (Evelyn Beck, Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great story, woeful narration

Would you listen to All the Light We Cannot See again? Why?

No, the narrator makes too many jarring errors of pronunciation.


What didn’t you like about Julie Teal’s performance?

Too many mispronunciations. For example, navy - in a passage describing how huge trees were cut down to make masts for ships - the French & British navies become "navvies". Seriously - why didn't someone stop her? So many mistakes I found myself calling out the correction "Not 'straff' - STRAFE!" Just hope I didn't do it on the train.


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- MB

Despite the narrator

Technically exquisite writing - esp from the close pov of the blind girl - and the research a little too heavy to always convince as the characters' knowledge and not the writer unable to resist sharing his long hours in the library, but a story both epic and intimate, sustained and sincere, if sentimental. The narrator is almost comically inadequate. That she struggles with French and German words I can understand - but English, too? Navvies, noted in a review above, is a favourite, but her pronunciation of 'extravagance' is the best, and may outlast the memory of the book itself for me. Wasn't anybody at the recording listening to her? These errors were so numerous I decided to make them added pleasures, but, yes, the writer and the readers deserve better.
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- James

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-05-2014
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited