Book Review – All The Light We Cannot See; Anthony Doerr

“Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth.”
“Her fingers walk the tightrope of sentences…”

All The Light We Cannot See was this month’s book club choice, and as this has been on my TBR pile for a while it makes this read feel like a double accomplishment.
First off, the writing in this book is beautiful. As beautiful as the cover imaging.
The story is set primarily between France and Germany, with the lion share of the story unfolding between 1934 and 1944. The narrative tracks primarily Werner and Marie-Laure; Werner is a very gifted orphan whos father passed away in a mining accident who finds a way to escape working in the mines himself, Marie-Laure is a gifted, charming blind girl who’s life changes completely when her and her father have to escape occupied Paris for Saint-Malo.
I finished this book in about six days, a combination of how addictive this book is and the fact I had a couple days off spent primarily at Whitsand Bay. Anthony Doerr created a world I wanted to dive into at every spare moment, I was desperate to find how Werner and Marie-Laure’s stories would entwine.
I found the first two thirds of the novel more enjoyable than the final third. As much as I enjoyed this novel, I will be donating it to charity. I’m glad this came into my life, but I will not be recommending it at the same level of overexcitement which I did Pet Sematary of The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

That said, as much as I don’t expect to re-read this book, I can appreciate how beautiful it is. Part of me wants to pass this onto my dad, who though he isn’t a big reader loves radio.

There is a short video on YouTube from the author explaining how the story composed itself.

3/5

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Similar books to try;
The Book Thief; Markus Zusak

The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom; A Review

The book begins on the day of Eddie’s death.
It’s a day much the same as any other in Eddie’s life, with the little routines and interactions he repeats day after day. The day however, is made unique by an unpredictable event, and a choice Eddie makes beginning him on his journey through heaven where he meets five people who his life has intersetected with in some way.
I picked this one from my TBR pile as I fancied a quick un-taxing read. Just below two hundred pages, it feels more like six short stories with the clearly separated parts (last day on earth, the first person…).

The fourth and fifth people he met were the ones that hit me hardest, and had me crying. Its reminiscent of The Green Mile, and how the story reflects on a moment of a man’s life, (though with less mice and magic).

It pulls at your heart strings, plays with your expectations and is a very satisfying read. Eddie’s story is simple, and relatable.
Its currently with my mum who spotted this on the side, and requested it immediately.
4/5
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life.
His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart.
He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers…”
Similar books to try;

Veronika Decides to Die; Paulo Coelho

The Lovely Bones; Alice Sebold

A Man Called Ove; Fredrik Backman

Horns: Joe Hill, A Review

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I have a tendency to forget about a book if the first few chapters don’t grab me, this is a terrible habit as so often the books I give up turn out to be ones I get addicted to. Horns is a perfect example of this, I started this novel last February and abandoned it until a month or so ago.

I saw this trailer to this a couple years ago and was hooked, after a bit of research I found the film was based on a book by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son! As soon a single could get to Waterstones I bought myself a copy of the novel. And it isn’t a film cover, one of my pet peeves when it comes to books is being stuck with a film cover. Often a cover tells such a story in itself.

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After a very public drunken fight with his girlfriend, Ig walks away from her to sleep his hangover off in his car. The next morning she turns up raped and murdered, and the town as a collective can only think of a be person who could have committed the crime. A year after Merrins murder Ig wakes up feeling guilty and hungover unable to remember the night before, with a splitting headache that turns out to be a pair of horns growing from his head. Horns which make people tell the truth, and can influence people’s actions.

This is a book I was so sad to finish. The story is original, but with nods to the detailed storymanship that made me fall in love with his father’s writing.

I have a tendency to second guess situations and endings, and a prolific horror and crime fan I’m pretty good at it. Not with this story, at multiple points I thought the story had ended (even with hundreds of pages left), and each time I was on tenterhooks.

The story is incredibly multilayered, it is not only concerned with Ig’s quest for the truth, but also human motivations and the stories behind thier choices. You see the underbelly of Ig’s relationships, and hear the thoughts that people would not share under any circumstance other than these Horns.

Horns is one of my favourite books of this year, and one I feel I’ll love for an age.This story has stayed with me, and I can’t bring myself to watch the film just yet incase I hate the interpretation. I am about to lend the book to a colleague though, abd hopefully I’ll have another person I can wax lyrical with.

Have you read Horns, what did you think? What would you recommend reading next?

– Emily

Ps: the film is currently on Netflix if your intrigued but unlikely to pick this up anytime soon. And make sure your tweet me if you read/have read this! @MayToOctober_