Thursday 21 September 2023

Illumination Night

Finished September 16
Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman 

This story of a few people living in a small community over a few years is one of relationships, secrets, and growth. Set on Martha's Vineyard, the story starts with a young couple and their child. Before they moved here five years ago, Andre sold the motorcycle design company he created and now makes some money restoring old motorcycles that he then sells to collectors. Vonny is a potter and sells mostly to local stores, where she has made a name for herself. Their son Simon will be four in a few months and is inquisitive and friendly. 
Their nearest neighbour, Elizabeth Renny, is nearly seventy-four and, as the story opens, takes a bad fall. Her daughter, who is having marital issues, decides to send her sixteen-year-old daughter Jody to stay with Elizabeth for the summer. That visit becomes more permanent, something both Jody and Elizabeth are happy about. 
The novel's title takes its name from a tradition on the vineyard that has been taking place for more than a hundred and fifty years. It happens in August and involves music, food, and the lighting of paper lanterns. 
When the event takes place early in the book, it marks a point in the book where things change for many of the characters. 
We see Elizabeth age, Jody grow up and figure out a future for herself, Vonny come to terms with her own parents in interesting ways, and Andre make both bad and good choices. Simon too, grows up, although not always at the pace his parents hope for, sometimes too slowly and sometimes having to face tragedy too early. 
This is a story that really captivated me, making it hard to put down. I cared about the characters and wanted the book to continue so I could see what happened in these people's lives. 

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