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14.04.2019 Feature Article

A gem of a book

A gem of a book

Anthony Doerr was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio (USA). He lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two sons. www.anthonydoerr.com.

“An imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology.” www.pulitzer.org.

A blind French girl and a German boy. Their paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The museum director has given the girl’s father the task of hiding a giant blue diamond known as the Sea of Flames that bears a legendary curse.

The story is told in a nonlinear fashion and covers the years 1934-2014. The following are excerpts from the book:

The female protagonist in the story. “In a corner of the city, inside a tall, narrow house at Number 4 rue Vauborel, on the sixth and highest floor, a sightless sixteen-year-old named Marie-Laure LeBlanc kneels over a low table covered entirely with a model. The model is a miniature of the city she kneels within, and contains scale replicas of the hundreds of houses and shops and hotels within its walls.”

The male protagonist in the story. “Five streets to the north, a white-haired eighteen-year-old German private named Werner Pfennig wakes to a faint staccato hum. Little more than a purr. Flies tapping at a far-off windowpane….An anti-air corporal hurries down the corridor, heading for the stairwell. “Get to the cellar,” he calls over his shoulder, and Werner switches on his field light, rolls his blanket into his duffel, and starts down the hall.”

The stories of Marie-Laure and Werner become linked by their love of a radio program and a valuable diamond.

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” This is a lesson to be learned as we live out our lives.

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, “All the Light We Cannot See” is a deeply moving novel. (Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition, April 4, 2017).

“All the Light We Cannot See” provoked various emotions as I read what humanity does to humanity. But a flower does grow through a dirty crack in the concrete—and it blooms. I highly recommend this book.

I am a fan from afar and my plan is to read his other novels and story collections: “About Grace,” “The Shell Collector,” and “Memory Wall.”

Melissa Martin, PhD, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in the US.

Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin, © 2019

This author has authored 59 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MelissaMartin

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