All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book Review Literary Awards Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2015), Audie Award for Fiction (2015), ALA Alex Award (2015), Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction (Runner-Up) (2015), Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction (2015) …more The story revolves around a blind French girl and a German boy who eventually meet towards the end of WW2 in occupied France. The father and his blind daughter flee Paris for the safety of a city by the sea, until he is taken away by the Nazis, never to see his daughter again. She lives on in the old building with her grandfather, until the town comes under attack. The German boy, drafted into the Nazi army, hears the girl broadcasting a reading of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, followed by Clair de Lune. He is changed by this and led to the girl. I enjoyed reading this book. Set during the Second World War in France/ Germany it is easy to read, using simple but emotive words to build the story. It is rather different from the usual WW2 books, giving us another view of the Nazis and the French civilians. Because the protagonist is blind, we get to “see” things through her… Continue reading

Regeneration by Pat Barker

This book is set during WW1 in England. It makes use of the factual poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves. Fact and fiction are mixed together in this story about the psychological damage done to soldiers during the First World War. The issue of opposing the war is also discussed, since Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most famous of WW1 poets, opposed the war publicly. Those injured soldiers who opposed the merciless killing were equated with cowards and shirkers. The only apparent option for them was to return to the front in France to demonstrate they were not afraid. When Siegfried Sassoon was wounded in France he returned to England. Wilfred Owen felt he should replace Sassoon at the front so he could report independently on what conditions were like. He returned to France and was killed a week before the end of the war. His mother received the dreaded telegram the same day the church bells were ringing out proclaiming the end of the war. In the novel Regeneration, Rivers is a psychiatrist who treats men who were damaged psychologically by their experiences in the war. The men were often injured mentally as well as physically, yet… Continue reading