18 August 2015

All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Beautiful lines, unusual use of verbs, such intriguing story.

A blind girl raised by a patient and loving father who is a talented locksmith at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. An ingenious boy in a mining town in Germany who teaches himself how to make radios and listens to Debussy's "Clair de Lune" coming from Paris. World War II. The walled citadel of Saint-Malo on the edge of Bretagne. The Jules Vernon adventures in Braille. Models of cities to the exact house, little wooden houses that are puzzles that contain a goddess's cursed gem. The brave girl with codes in her bread and seawater in her shoes. The disenchanted boy trying to redeem himself in the eyes of his faraway sister.

But I think towards the end some of the chapters were unnecessary. No need to tie up every little loose ends and then some. A poignant poetic ending would have been perfect and in line with the rest of All the Light You Cannot See. 


In her imagination, in her dreams, everything has color. The museum buildings are beige, chestnut, hazel. Its scientists are lilac and lemon yellow and fox brown. Piano chords loll in the speaker of the wireless in the guard station, projecting rich blacks and complicated blues down the hall toward the key pound. [...] The huge cypress trees she and her father pass on their morning walk are shimmering kaleidoscopes, each needle a polygon of light.

[...] Her father radiates a thousand colors, opal, strawberry red, deep russet, wild green; a smell like oil and metal, the feel of a lock tumbler sliding home, the sound of his key rings chiming as he walks. He is an olive green when he talks to a department head, an escalating series of oranges when he speaks to Mademoiselle Fleury from the greenhouses, a bright red when he tries to cook. He glows sapphire when he sits over his workbench in the evenings, humming almost inaudibly as he works, the tip of his cigarette gleaming a prismatic blue.



And yet she can tell he is visited by fears so immense, so multiple that she can almost feel the terror pulsing inside him. As though some beast breathes all the time at the windowpanes of his mind.





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