Anthony Doerr's "All The Light We Cannot See" & Peach-Strawberry Granita
The first pages of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr reminded me of Amelie. The early staccato sentences introduce France during the German occupation in 1944. We meet Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind girl who waits alone for her uncle as bombers rain devastation from overhead. Nearby, German private Werner Pfennig and his unit hunker below ground, awaiting the raid. Following this brief preview of the novel's climax, Doerr captures flashbulb scenes from Marie-Laure's life, explaining not only how she went blind but how she and her father coped with it. Next, we learn all about Werner, the orphan who is destined to go into the mines but instead gets conscripted into the Hitler Youth, chosen for his talents in math and building radios.
In the remaining pages, Doerr slowly, patiently, leads Werner to Marie-Laure, to the secret place in Saint-Malo, the walled city by the sea, where she seeks refuge. The novel raises many questions about choice, morality, about the ways we communicate and the ways we grow up. A lush cast of characters — from the gentle-hearted German soldier, who is also a skilled killer, to Marie-Laure's great-uncle Etienne, who served in World War I and suffers hallucinations — help answer those questions and more.
All the Light We Cannot See is too complex a novel to be sufficiently boiled down for the purposes of this review. It is a novel for those who hope for love, strength and goodness. It will force you to wonder what you would do in the face of massive challenges, crippled by your own shortcomings. It is, above all, beautiful, and for that reason it is my favorite book of 2014 so far.
I made this peach-strawberry granita as an homage to Marie-Laure and Werner, and to the canned peaches that sustained and united them. This recipe uses simple, humble ingredients, that combine to become something luscious and refreshing. Making granita correctly requires patience and attention — and the knowledge that each scrape of the fork brings forth a cold and delicious treasure.
- 4 ripe peaches
- 1/2 pound ripe strawberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- juice from half a lemon
- sea salt, to taste
Peel and chop fruit into bite-sized pieces.
In a food processor, blend together all ingredients until no chunks remain. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into small baking pan (I used a 1 pound loaf man). Return any chunks tofood processor and blend, then add to baking pan.
Place baking pan, uncovered in freezer, for 2 1/2 hours. Every 45 minutes to 1 hour, remove pan from freezer and scrape over with a fork until frozen through.
To serve, scrape frozen mixture to create an icy and fluffy texture and transfer to small bowls. To store, freeze in airtight container.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Source: I received this book as a free e-copy through NetGalley.