December, 2016: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

(Book #80) As has been our tradition, Geri hosted our December book meeting  and Cookie Exchange. She is the Christmas Hostess Extraordinaire. Because of the Paris and French countryside setting of All the Light We Cannot See, Geri served French wine, French cheese, quiche and pomme frites and served them all in an atmosphere so comfy, no one wanted to go home! It was a lovely evening that gave me hope that we’ll see the end of this terrible year of my brother’s death and that horrible thing that happened in November.

Our discussion of the book started with the beautiful image of the children listening to the radio in the evening, the idea of a relatively new technology bringing even more science and learning through the air. Everyone was appalled to think that the school Werner attended was actually the kind of school the Hitler Youth attended. We talked about how the description of the flight from Paris is reminiscent of Irene Nemirovsky’s account of the exodus in Suite Francaise. All of us enjoyed the book and if there was criticism it was that we would have liked more from Werner’s story.

A favorite quote: “And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths? That her father and Etienne and Madame Manec and the German boy named Werner Pfennig might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings? That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it.