Set in the backdrop of World War II, depicting the fictional events during the Siege of Saint-Malo in France by Germany, ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr grips readers with its non-linear flow, shifting simultaneously between different characters and timelines from the start. Through his distinctive writing style, Doerr asks – “a reader to follow two adolescents here, through a lot of places and timelines.”
A reader takes a deep dive into the lives of two young individuals, Marie Laurie and Werner, who represent two characters that are poles apart and from contrasting backgrounds and how their paths intersect amidst the chaos of war.
Doerr has skillfully presented and captured the resilience of the human spirit. The novel shows throughout that when faced with heavy odds, the principal characters respond with undaunting strength and unwavering courage that can be reached even in the darkest of times.
As the plot progresses, the principal characters’ quest for knowledge plays a major role in shaping their lives and making their choices. Added to it are the moral dilemmas that affect the complex maze of human decisions in the backdrop of war; readers are continuously prompted to reflect upon the consequences of actions taken during wartime. Werner is continuously torn between morality and pragmatism of war, continuously prompting the reader to question morality and the result of choices or the illusion of choice.
Another important theme of the book is the exploration of human connections. Doerr has successfully highlighted the capacity of different human beings from different and diverse backgrounds to form meaningful connections when pressed under adverse circumstances.
The novel keeps one deeply engaged and emotionally invested throughout the plot journey, and the non-linear style of the author successfully generates the “narrative momentum” wanting for more at every page turn. The mastery with which the author has put emotional depths in all the characters touches and resonates with the readers at a much deeper level.
Overall, the novel is an emotional ride that reverberates with the readers for its thematic resonance, transcending from just a literary experience into a philosophical one. The reader is left contemplating the human experience during times of crisis and the everyday emotional struggles of its principal characters as a result of it.
The recent adaptation of this masterpiece into a limited series on NETFLIX prompted my long-awaited return to my library to explore its pages instead of opting for the screen adaptation. Thankful for this choice, I found myself deeply moved by the poignant storytelling that provokes profound philosophical contemplation about morality, resilience, and human connection in the face of adversity.
In conclusion, Anthony Doerr’s evocative storytelling crafts a narrative that resonates deeply with themes of resilience, moral introspection, and human connection amidst the canvas of World War II. His skillful portrayal of emotionally complex characters navigating the adversities of war offers readers a poignant opportunity to reflect on the moral fabric of human experience during crises.
- Total pages: 560
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- All The Light We Cannot See: Anthony Doerr