The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved the writing and the setting and the quirkiness of this novel, but had trouble with the structure and plot. I've added Dinerstein to my writers-to-watch list and look forward to reading future work.
Here's the publisher blurb:
"In the beautiful, barren landscape of the Far North, under the ever-present midnight sun, Frances and Yasha are surprised to find refuge in each other. Their lives have been upended--Frances has fled heartbreak and claustrophobic Manhattan for an isolated artist colony; Yasha arrives from Brooklyn to fulfill his beloved father's last wish: to be buried "at the top of the world." They have come to learn how to be alone.
But in Lofoten, an archipelago of six tiny islands in the Norwegian Sea, ninety-five miles north of the Arctic Circle, they form a bond that fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, offering solace amidst great uncertainty. With nimble and sure-footed prose, Dinerstein reveals that no matter how far we travel to claim our own territory, it is ultimately love that gives us our place in the world."
The story is told in alternating viewpoints, both of which I enjoyed, but it was a real shock to be so immersed in one character (Frances, first person) and then break away to another (third person, Yasha) point of view. It could have been two different books, their stories are so unlike.
I totally believe these young people would connect in the way they do, but to pitch this as a romantic love story is wrong, in my opinion. What else is going to happen when two young people are thrown together in such a place, in such circumstances? It was less enjoyable to slog through the last part of the book, not because of the writing, but because of the plot. I do agree love and connection are the theme, but not just between Frances and Yasha--among family and community as well. The story told here is about learning to live with loss; the only cure for the loss of love is to find a way to love again.
It's worth reading for the beauty of the setting and prose, whether the romance part rings true or false for you, though. Recommended.
I received an EARC of this book for review from the publisher and Netgalley.
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