Book Discussion – November 2017

Date/Time: Wednesday, October 25, 7:00 pm
Reading Selection: All the Light We Cannot See (2014)
by Anthony Doerr

Special Note:  The “November” Book Discussion Group meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 25th, at 7:00 pm at St. Cyprian’s Church, 13249 Pennsylvania Road in Riverview.  We will be having a joint discussion with the St. Cyprian Book Club.  This will take the place of our November meeting.

All the Light We Cannot See is a novel written by American author Anthony Doerr. It is a stunningly beautiful … [book] about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

The book won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and has been a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book — appearing on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two and a half years.

Source: Wikipedia and Amazon. [Accessed 09-17-2017]


An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: Does the world need yet another novel about WWII? It does when the novel is as inventive and beautiful as this one by Anthony Doerr. In fact, All the Light We Cannot See–while set mostly in Germany and France before and during the war–is not really a “war novel”. Yes, there is fear and fighting and disappearance and death, but the author’s focus is on the interior lives of his two characters. Marie Laure is a blind 14-year-old French girl who flees to the countryside when her father disappears from Nazi-occupied Paris. Werner is a gadget-obsessed German orphan whose skills admit him to a brutal branch of Hitler Youth. Never mind that their paths don’t cross until very late in the novel, this is not a book you read for plot (although there is a wonderful, mysterious subplot about a stolen gem). This is a book you read for the beauty of Doerr’s writing– “Abyss in her gut, desert in her throat, Marie-Laure takes one of the cans of food…”–and for the way he understands and cherishes the magical obsessions of childhood. Marie Laure and Werner are never quaint or twee. Instead they are powerful examples of the way average people in trying times must decide daily between morality and survival. –Sara Nelson

Source: Amazon. [Accessed 09-17-2017]

A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall—and long—­narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers … –Brad Hooper

Source: Booklist [Accessed 09-17-2017]


Anthony Doerr (born October 27, 1973) is an American author of novels and short stories. He gained widespread recognition for his 2014 novel All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Early Life and Education

Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Doerr attended the nearby University School, where he graduated in 1991. He then majored in history at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he graduated in 1995, and earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University.


Anthony Doerr at a book fair in Saint Malo, France.
Photograph: Ulf Andersen / Getty Images




Doerr’s first published book was a collection of short stories called The Shell Collector (2002). Many of the stories take place in Africa and New Zealand, where he has worked and lived. He wrote another book of short stories called Memory Wall (2010). His first novel, About Grace, was released in 2004. Doerr then wrote a memoir, Four Seasons in Rome, which was published in 2007.

Doerr’s second novel, All the Light We Cannot See, set in occupied France during World War II, was published in 2014. It received significant critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. The book was a New York Times bestseller and was named by the newspaper as a notable book of 2014. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. It was runner-up for the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction and won the 2015 Ohioana Library Association Book Award for Fiction.

Doerr also writes a column on science books for the Boston Globe and is a contributor to The Morning News, an online magazine.

From 2007 to 2010, he was the writer-in-residence for the state of Idaho.



About Grace (2004)
All the Light We Cannot See (2014)

Short story collections

The Shell Collector[9] (2002)
Memory Wall (2010)


Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World (2007)


• Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, for The Shell Collector
• Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy in Rome
• 2003: New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, winner, The Shell Collector
• 2005, 2011: Ohioana Book Award for About Grace and Memory Wall, respectively
• 2010: Guggenheim Fellowship
• 2011: The Story Prize, winner, Memory Wall
• 2011: Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, winner, ‘The Deep’
• 2014: finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction
• 2015: Pulitzer Prize for All the Light We Cannot See

Visit Amazon’s Anthony Doerr Page.



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