I just finished two great reads, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which were set in France during World War II (WWII) . All the Light We Cannot See, is about two children’s lives during World War II- one growing up in France and the other in Germany. The narrative moves back and forth between the two main characters- Werner and Marie-Laure and parallels their coming of age. Werner, a young orphan boy in Nazi Germany, lives in a children’s home . He is exceptionally bright and curious with a knack for fixing radios. His talents in math and science win him a spot in a nightmarish Hitler Youth Academy. This is his only chance of escape from a grim life working in the same deadly coal mines. Marie-Laure lives with her locksmith father who works at a museum, and she is blind. When the Germans attack Paris, she and her father flee to the coastal town of Saint-Malo to live with a great-uncle who lives in a tall, storied house next to a sea wall. Eventually, these parallel stories intersect briefly. While the story is beautiful and heartbreaking, I was looking for something more when these two young lives cross, but nonetheless, an engaging, well-written book with many thought provoking lines. Here are a few of my personal favorites from All the Light We Cannot See:
“Doing nothing is as good as collaborating.”
“Don’t you want to be alive before you die?”
“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.”
The Nightingale, is another great read about WWII (and a personal favorite). The narrative is about two sisters- Viann and Isabelle- who could not be more different from one another. During WWII, both found themselves in unthinkable circumstances and did heroic things to survive the horrors of war as well as to help many others survive. This is a heartbreaking book (suggest reading this in the privacy of your own home or hotel room because there will likely be tears) but provides a small glimpse into what courageous women did while France was occupied by Germany during the WWII. I highly recommend it.