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All The Light We Cannot See/Anthony Doerr

For those who do not enjoy reading, or may be intimidated by a 500 page book, you can start – as I did – with the Netflix film starring Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie.

I was sufficiently engaged – and thought the film may not have done justice to the novel – to read the book.

The story is of a 14 year old blind French girl called Marie Laure who, during World War Two when France is occupied, is the custodian of a valuable diamond called Sea of Flames which was in the Natural History Museum of Paris where her father (a locksmith) was keeper of the keys.

She and her father are forced to leave Paris before the Germans arrive and head down to St Malo in Brittany where they have relatives.

In a parallel story Werner Pfennig, a wizard with electronics, is sent to an elite but harsh Nazi institution to perfect his skills.

The connection between Marie Laure and Werner is a radio transmitter.

Uncle Etienne broadcasts coded messages to the Allies and Werner is sent to track this down.

Both Werner and Marie Laure had listened intently to philosophical radio broadcasts by Etienne.

The themes of blindness , occupation, Nazi cruelty , horrors of war and radio as the main source of communication are all well-covered in the novel which is admirably researched and well written. He also depicts the minor characters like the giant sergeant Frank Volksheimer , The fey Frederick so bullied in the Nazi elite school , Werner’s sister Jutta and Etienne’s sister Madame Manec with depth.

In a final section the characters are updated to the present.

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About Melanie Gay

A former literary agent with three published novels of her own, Melanie retains her life-long love of the written word and recently mastered the Kindle. She is currently writing a historical novel set in 17th Century Britain and Holland. More Posts