Shortly after her college graduation, Frances flees a painful breakup and her claustrophobic childhood home in Manhattan, which has become more airless in the aftermath of two family announcements: her parents' divorce and her younger sister's engagement. She seeks refuge at a Norwegian artist colony that's offered her a painting apprenticeship. Unfortunately, she finds only one artist living there: Alf, an enigmatic middle-aged descendant of the Sami reindeer hunters who specialises in the colour yellow...
Yasha, an eighteen-year-old Russian immigrant raised in a bakery in Brighton Beach, is kneading bread in the shop's window when he sees his mother for the first time in a decade. As he gains a selfish and unreliable parent, he loses his beloved father. He must carry out his father's last wish to be buried 'at the top of the world' and reconcile with the charismatic woman who abandoned them both...
And so Frances's and Yasha's paths intersect in Lofoten, a string of five islands ninety-five miles above the Arctic Circle. Their unlikely connection and growing romance fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, and teaches them that to be alone is not always to be lonely, and that love and independence are not mutually exclusive.
Why We Love It:
The two different lives of these young people coincide after a disenchanted Frances journeys to a desolate artist colony north of the Artic Circle. When she meets Yasha, who by a twist of fate ends up at the ‘top of the earth’ too, they confront both their pasts and their futures.
Dinerstein, a 27-year-old from New York City, has an artist’s eye for setting, and this novel provides plenty of scope for evocative descriptions, set as it is during the long days of a Norwegian summer. Indeed, it’s no surprise to learn that Dinerstein herself spent a year in an artist colony at Lofoten and has published a volume of poetry she wrote there.
The Sunlit Night is a poetically wrought tale about love and loss. It’s a debut novel that charms us with its whimsical young characters finding their way in a harsh, and sometimes disillusioning, world.
Though set in a moonless northern summer, The Sunlit Night makes a timely read as we approach the southern solstice at the end of this week – perfect reading to transport you to another world on a winter night.
From the team at Better Reading