Tuesday, 2 February 2016

ALL THE LIGHT – Dianne Hofmeyr

I’ve never missed my slot in the ABBA rota ever since I joined more than how many years ago? But I I was almost about to do exactly that today. SORRY! I’m at the other end of the world and maybe the slightly oppressive thundery heat and the steady beat of the waves thumping to shore have put me in a somnambulistic trance.

I was intending to write about a book I’ve just read called All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Most of you have probably read it. I don’t think I’ve recently come across a book with such a depth and wealth of information but with none of the interruption of an author’s voice. I was totally entranced by his ability to write about diamonds and shells and wireless transmitters – my husband can still recall his crystal set from his boyhood (no he's not 100). With digital access to world news most of us have forgotten transmitters and what they meant to people in WW2. Amazing that messages were flying through the ether informing people of the human side of deaths and births and who had reached which place safely, as well as battle co-ordinates of the enemy.

I found everything in the story unfolding with such naturalness… like air being breathed in and out. From the beautiful wooden lay-out of the city of Paris and of St Malo made for the blind Marie-Laure by her father, to the orphans in Germany picking up broadcasts for children that filtered in from France, to the incredible diamond at the core of the story and even the whelks and sea snails living their own secret lives in the dankness of a gated sea-wall cave.

The story has the word light in its title but the writing itself gives off a kind of mesmerizing light even through the barbarism of war. It’s the first book that I’ve ever read that I will pick up and immediately read for a second time just for the joy of Doerr’s deftness at not making me feel manipulated.

So now with great speed and not perhaps enough depth on the book and not even touching on the marvellous character of the boy Werner, or Madam Marec or even great uncle Etienne and certainly no time for checking my grammar… I’m sending this out still on the 2nd of the 2nd month of 2016 but mightily late.

Perhaps I will be forgiven if you see the walk I did today along the Robberg Peninsula… all the time wondering how the blind girl, Marie-Laure would interpret the sounds and smells and air around her.

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Penny Dolan said...

A book I've still to read so thanks for encouraging me on to look for it soon. The walk looks absolutely beautiful, Dianne, so thank you for these photographs - especially as hail has suddenly begun rattling against my window.

Sue Purkiss said...

The photographs are lovely, Dianne, and I absolutely agree about the book. I reviewed it here.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Thanks Sue... I've just read your blog a year later! You have said it all so succinctly. A great review. I'm going to try your trick of opening it at random and reading a sentence. And now I have just done it. On page 429... "Things are just things. Stories are just stories". What a great sentence for a writer to find. I'm sorry I didn't find your review earlier. And interestingly I was also deeply struck by the character of Werner and of course Marie-Laure.

Lynne Benton said...

I'm inspired by your eloquence, Dianne, so I've just downloaded it onto my Kindle. Really looking forward to reading it now. Many thanks!