Lausanne Book Club returned to its normal haunt this month, taking over the downstairs area of Caffe Bellini. While over 19 people had originally said they could make it, in the end it was a vocal and core crew of 9 people who ended up discussing Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. We welcomed two newcomers to the group. Another Brit – Laura (we’re slowly building an empire) and wonderfully, another chap, the South African French tour de force, Michael (you see, I do speak some French). Welcome to you both and I hope to see you at future book clubs!
This book divided people. There were a couple of evangelists (of which I was one), a couple who didn’t like the book at all, and a number who enjoyed it but probably wouldn’t read it again.
This month, we were asked to provide one word which summed up the book for us. What a descriptive lot you are! Themes of endurance, perseverance, hardship, growing up, and hope. Emotions of coping, sublime, sense-awakening (yes, it’s a word), and annoying. Notes of topicality (sadly) and being unfinished were all used.
We discussed the role of women, the need to adapt in the face of new challenges, and the evolution of the characters. We discussed the role of children and their parents – the sacrifices adulthood and being a parent forces us to make. We talked about blindness and whether the loss of a sense made Marie-Laure “see” details that others missed. Did her blindness add tension or vulnerability?
Some of us weren’t drawn into the book as much as others. There were sighs of dismay about the writing style (again with the non-linear narrative style!) The jumpy style was either embraced or hated. Some of the characters weren’t as developed as we would have liked (the bread woman! She was awesome, who was she?)
Some of us picked out a couple of our favourite quotes and out of the group’s choices, one struck me particularly. And it’s a good enough place to end this post.
“And yet she [Marie-Laure] can tell he [Etienne] 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.”
Great discussion all – thank you so much.