“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”// Review of “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Title: All The Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Genre: Historical fiction
Date Read: 26/06/2016 – 06/07/2016
Rating: ★★

Review:

I said when I first started reading this book that the crossover between Pulitzer Prize winning books and books that I enjoy is pretty much zero. There’s a reason for that. While I enjoy well-written books, books that win these sorts of prizes tend to be crafted in such a way that leaves me unsatisfied, even if I can appreciate the intricate work that went into making them. I did push through to the end of this one, but it did have that same effect.

All The Light We Cannot See is set during WW2 and focuses on two stories that of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, the blind daughter of the locksmith at the Natural History Museum in Paris, and Werner Pfennig, Marie-Laure and her father escape Paris to live with her Uncle Etienne, as her father is carrying a huge secret, and Walter, a boy with a knack for electronics, is recruited into the German army to detect enemy radio transmissions. As the war goes on, their stories gradually converge.

Walter and Marie-Laure both had the makings of interesting characters, but as I said earlier, the book is written in such a way that screams “I took a day to craft each sentence perfectly” and that distracted from the characters to me. Characters are the most important part of a story to me, so if I can’t connect to them, it doesn’t matter how amazing the plot is, I won’t have as much interest.

And that is the other thing… there isn’t a huge amount of plot here. While I do find it incredible the kinds of things regular people did to survive during the Second World War, so much of this book was just filled with people doing mundane, every day stuff, trying to get on with their lives when the world was falling to pieces around them. I felt I was getting both Marie and Werner’s entire life stories, when events that happened to them years before the main story could really have been summed up in a few sentences rather than across several chapters.

I know that there are people to whom this sort of high literature with clever language appeals, and more power to them. I am not one of those. However, I am sure that for serious historical fiction fans, it is one that should be picked up at some point.


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 22 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What are you currently reading?

allthelightcoverI’m only about 40 pages from the end of  All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s not really my kind of book,to be honest, but I did stick it out to the end, so that has to count for something, right?

I finally got around to putting the audio of White Cat by Holly Black onto my phone and I’ve made it to about 40% of that today. It’s interesting enough, but not terribly exciting (which is pretty much what I thought about the last Holly Black book I read).

I haven’t had much of a chance to continue with Wonder Women by Sam Maggs, but I’ve got ages to finish that one before a review is due.

What did you recently finish reading?

catchmeifyoucancoverI finished the audio of Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding. Frank Abagnale has to be about the luckiest man who ever lived.

I also reviewed Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and Nightshade by Maryrose Wood this week, as well as posting a breakdown of my reading for the first six months of the year.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Technically, The Secret River by Kate Grenville should be next, but I think I need a break from historical fiction after All The Light We Cannot See. I picked up Game by Barry Lyga, the sequel to I Hunt Killers, from the library this afternoon and the third book is showing up on my record as in transit. I’ll probably read those and then get back to Kate Grenville.

And now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Since I was such an awful WIPpet Wednesday Coordinator last week, please leave me your links for June 30 in the comments  here and I’ll try to double-up this week.

I’m not entirely sure what to share today. I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo but at the moment I’m finding the story a bit boring. Oh well. I’ve found six lines that will do. Grace has just started her new job as a maid at Merrow House. Sarah Holdom is giving her a tour of the house, and Grace has seen photographs of Frederick Merrow’s late wife and is asking whether she died before or after Mr Merrow left England for Australia.

“No, she had already passed away when Mr Merrow left England. I believe it was some sort of illness, though there are those who say…” She looked over her shoulder theatrically to check no one could overhear her. “There are those who say that Mr Merrow got himself and his wife involved in things he shouldn’t have…. dark things… dark magic… and that that’s what killed her.”

“Dark magic?” Grace scoffed, but felt intrigue flair up inside her anyway.

That’s all from me for this week. Don’t forget to check out others’ contributions to these two blog hops! Until next week!

~ Emily


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 29 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions (I’m posting early, so you might have to wait a bit for the link up to go live).

wwwwednesday

What are you currently reading?

allthelightcoverI’ve started All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I’m moving slowly with it, though I do have seven hours of travel on Saturday, so in theory I could get it finished before it’s due back to the library next Wednesday. If I do have to return it, though, the queue is moving quite quickly, so I can reserve it and have it again in a couple of weeks.

catchmeifyoucancoverOn audio, I’m listening to Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding. I really enjoy the movie with Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hanks, and I absolutely loved the musical when I saw it earlier this year, so when I saw it available on Overdrive, I thought I would pick it up. I guess it’s unsurprising that a man’s memoir written in the 80s about being a teenager in the 60s is fairly sexist and gross at times… but if you can overlook that, it’s pretty entertaining so far…

wonderwomencoverI accidentally left All the Light We Cannot See on my desk at work yesterday, so last night I started Wonder Women by Sam Maggs, which I was approved for on NetGalley. While I really appreciate being made aware of these awesome women I had not heard of in many cases, I do wish the author was a little more academic and a little less snarky (I swear, there’s a “witty” aside every two sentences).

What did you recently finish reading?

nimonacoverNimona by Noelle Stevenson was very sweet, though not terribly original. I still really enjoyed it, though; the characters made it.

Nightshade by Maryrose Wood was… well, a bit weird. It felt a bit like it was trying to go dark and kind of missed and just ended up melodramatic instead.

fictionalwomancoverAnd finally,  The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss. Tara’s personal stories were definitely the strength of this book; the data analysis and social commentary felt like it was treading familiar ground. Still, an enjoyable introduction to feminism if you are looking for that sort of thing.

I also posted two reviews this week, for Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, both of which were 4.5 star reads for me.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have The Secret River by Kate Grenville out from the library after my library haul at the beginning of the month. I am honestly not sure whether I will enjoy it and I may not end up getting through it, but I want to give it a go.

wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Today is the 29th, so I took eleven lines from my Scrivener document. In this scene, Carrie is still posing as the Princess. They have arrived back at the palace, and Masden has left Carrie to the princess’ ladies’ maid to get washed up before reporting to the King that she is supposedly home.

Her face lit up when she saw Carrie. “Oh, Princess, it’s such a relief to see you’re all right!” she exclaimed. She took a couple of quick steps forward with her arms out, as though she had intended to embrace the Princess, but then seemed to remember her place and thought better of it and let her arms fall.

Carrie gave her a smile. “Hello, Maisie,” she said, hoping she sounded natural enough. It was hard to talk to a stranger and make it sound like they already knew each other well. “It’s good to see you, too.”

Maisie gave a little curtsy, a broad smile beaming on her face, then she made her way straight to the bathroom. Carrie heard her speak through the door as she ran water into a tub. “Have to get you looking presentable for your father,” Maisie commented. “If you don’t mind my saying so, your Highness, you look a bit of a sight. You could do with a bath, but we haven’t got time for that. We’ll just get your face washed before you see your father, and change your clothes. The rest of you can wait.”

Carrie had no idea how the Princess would react to that. Surely, if that sort of familiar conversation was not welcome, Maisie would not have lasted long as the Princess’ companion. And besides, the Princess Adelyn that Carrie knew went out of her way to be accepting to all people. She even believed that magic had its place, unlike her father. A talkative servant was unlikely to bother her.

Carrie settled on a vague, “Yes, that sounds good,” and continued to sit on the bed, not sure what her next move should be.

Technically, they probably shouldn’t even have running water at this point, but I do intend to revise the time period in the next draft. I will be revising a lot of things in the next draft actually. So. Much. Revision.

But that’s Future Emily’s problem. For the moment, I’m working on Lessons  Learned. I had a rather large epiphany about this one, namely that the backstory is not backstory at all, but the actual story. So I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo to make a start on that! My username is spaciireth on the site if you want to share a cabin. I’m not going to go in a random cabin but will happily hang out with blog friends.

I should head off now. Catch you all later!

~ Emily


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