Sunday, August 28, 2016
Book Review: "Valley of the Moon," by Melanie Gideon
About the book:
San Francisco, 1975. A single mother, Lux Lysander is overwhelmed, underpaid, and living on the edge of an emotional precipice. When her adored five-year-old son goes away to visit his grandparents, Lux takes a solo trip to Sonoma Valley -- a chance to both lose herself and find herself again.
Awakened at midnight, Lux steps outside to see a fog settled over the Sonoma landscape. Wandering toward a point of light in the distance, she emerges into a meadow on a sunny day. There she meets a group of people whose sweetly simple clothing, speech, and manners almost make them seem as if they are from another time.
And then she realizes they are.
Lux has stumbled upon an idyllic community cut off not only from the rest of the world but from time itself. The residents of Greengage tell a stunned and disoriented Lux that they’ve somehow been marooned in the early twentieth century. Now that she has inexplicably stepped into the past, it is not long before Lux is drawn in by its peace and beauty.
Unlike the people of Greengage, Lux discovers that she is able to come and go. And over the years, Lux finds herself increasingly torn between her two lives. Her beloved son is very much a child of the modern world, but she feels continually pulled back to the only place she has ever truly felt at home.
A gorgeous, original, and deeply moving novel about love and longing and the power that time holds over all of us, Valley of the Moon is unforgettable.
Lux felt like she'd screwed up big-time in her life by becoming estranged from her father, quitting college, becoming a single mother at age 19 and having to support them on a waitress's salary. Finding Greengage, a place stuck in the early 20th century, gave her the opportunity to start over. Nobody judged her there. Life was simple. Everyone could choose what jobs they would do, which bettered the community. She felt valued and accepted. Returning to the modern world was difficult, but she had a son to raise. This story was easy for me to relate to. Who hasn't yearned to erase the sins of the past and start over, with the wisdom of hindsight? Modern life can feel overwhelming, with so many choices and technologies. Too many things pulling us in all directions. This beautifully written novel explores how family relationships shape our destiny, and how our choices affect those we love. It is for anyone who feels the call toward a simpler life or wishes for the opportunity to redirect the course of their future.
Melanie Gideon is the bestselling author of the novel Wife 22 and the memoir The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After. She is also the author of three young adult novels. Her books have been published in more than thirty languages. She was born and raised in Rhode Island, and now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.
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Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through this link.