All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The lives of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy come together during wartime in the light of an enormous diamond with a curse. Werner has a gift for building and operating radios. Marie-Laure’s uncle has a secret transmitter in the attic. The diamond is hidden in a wooden model of the house. A Nazi gemologist is determined to find it.
All the Light We Cannot See is for readers who love word paintings. I do not. Mr. Doerr’s literary gymnastics are extraordinary. This is a very long book that would be halved by the elimination of the metaphors. The prose is tortured with unorthodox word usage. ‘He upholsters himself in his uniform...’, ‘...blood gallops through his ventricles...’, ‘breath smells like crushed insects’ are some jarring examples. There are also some anachronisms. Continental drift is said to be identified during the war 1938-1945, whereas, it in fact was not accepted until the fifties. I also objected to references to miles and yards in Europe where it should have been meters and kilometers. Whole chapters seem to do nothing to advance the story and curious statements appear baffling. For example: the blind girl hears a dove, that’s fine, but the next sentence is: ‘Out in the harbor a sturgeon makes a single leap like a silver horse and then is gone.’ First, sturgeons are fresh water bottom dwellers that, to my knowledge, are not prone to leap—I could be wrong, however, the sentence has nothing whatever to do with the blind girl inside her room. The viewpoint shifts are myriad and being written in present tense is not a style that appeals to me. If you love to linger long in novel phrasing, this for you. It wasn’t for me.
Very Long, almost 600 pages on a Nook
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