Had I read the back cover blurbs on "All The Light We Cannot See" before finishing it, it's possible my impression of Anthony Doerr's remarkable 2014 novel could have been unduly influenced. This is especially so in this case because I've enjoyed each of the authors who justifiably praised Doerr's panoramic yet intimate book. I've even written a blog post about all four blurbers - Abraham Verghese ("Cutting For Stone"), J.R. Moehringer ("The Tender Bar"), Jess Walter ("Beautiful Ruins") and M.L. Stedman ("The Light Between Oceans").
But I'm pleased to have not noticed the glowing words of that talented group until after "All The Light We Cannot See" utterly transported me; I arrived at my reading rapture honestly. Though I have a reasonably good attention span, it's not unusual for me to fall out of the spell a few times in novels exceeding 500 pages, no matter how rich. This book had me beginning to end. The sweep of the tale is thrilling, the prose is gorgeous, the architecture Doerr constructed is startling but accessible - a peak reading experience.
And the two main characters - a young French girl named Marie Laure and Werner, a German soldier around the same age - are perfectly realized. Though they don't know each other, their lives magically intersect throughout the book. As their only meeting, WWII and the novel draw to a close, Doerr's mastery is on full display; his command of this material is stunning. Please let me know if you read this book. Discussing it with a discerning reader is the best way I know to extend my reading rapture.