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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Sunlit Night By Rebecca Dinerstein: Review


Look at the cover - I mean look at it...I have something for covers like this, that make you want to look at a book and think of what it could hold within. I am not really a fan of those commercial covers, and when Bloomsbury sent me a copy of  The Sunlit Night By Rebecca Dinerstein, I knew I would automatically fall in love with the cover - there is something that Bloomsbury has come up with in their design section that is going just so right for me.....fantastic.

The first thought that came to my mind even as I was reading the book was that it was like walking inside a painting. Imagine a situation, where you are looking at a beautiful painting, and suddenly, you find yourself pulled towards it, and just like that, you are inside the painting too, and everything has a glow and luminous effect around it.

Cover Jacket

I had read of a man who was painting with only the colour yellow - he lived in the north of Norway. The artist colony where he worked had offered me a room for the summer, as part of a painting apprenticeship programme.

Yasha remembered his father's instructions. On the back of a bakery receipt, he wrote:

This is what he wanted:
Ommot's route
Top of the world
Real peace

A Quick Look At The Goodreads Summary

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. 

What's The Story About

The author uses two different styles of narrative throughout the book - a first person narrative for Frances and a third person description from Yasha.

Frances, our heroine, has grown up in a small apartment in Manhatta, crammed with the lives of her younger sister Sarah, her interior designer mother and her medical illustrator father. It's a tough living, with the family members not having any 'space' and the constant claustrophobic existence taking its toll on them all. At such a time, Frances graduates from college, and all the image that the family was struggling so hard to keep up till now seems to fall apart.

Sarah and her fiance have trouble being accepted as part of the family who her parents do not like. Frances is dumped by her boyfriend Robert, after a pregnancy scare and he also does not think much about her art or her artistic inclinations. As Frances is currently not tied up with anything, she decides to go ahead and accept a painting apprenticeship that will take her to the farthest parts of Norway.

In another part of the world, our hero, Yasha, is completing his final year of schooling in Brooklyn. He runs the neighborhood bakery 'Saturday' along with his father Vassily, who had moved here almost a decade back from Russia. They had waited for Yasha's mother Olyana to join them, but she never did, and one day, she comes to see Yasha at his school, telling him that she is already in love and has been living in New York with the man she wants to marry. She wants Yasha to take the divorce papers to his father, but he is worried that his father's weak heart will not be able to bear the news. When he goes back home without the papers, his father tells him that he has booked tickets for them to go back to Russia to find Olyana. Yasha thinks it best to not disclose anything of the meeting. In the meanwhile, Olyana sends the papers to Vassily's brother so that he can hand it personally to him. Once back in Russia, Vassily's brother hands him the papers, and as Yasha had predicted, the man dies of a broken heart. Yasha decides to fulfill his father's wish of being buried at the top of the world.

Once Frances reaches the artist colony where she is to work during her apprenticeship, she discovers that she is the only artist along with Nils, who is creating an art installation known as The Yellow Room. Yasha soon arrives with Olyana to bury his father. It is here that the two finally come face to face. In the beginning, the two do not like each other, but soon there is a connect.

The entire setting of this budding romance is like a painting that has parts segregated into blocks of solid colour blocking. Shades of the sun in pink, fjords rushing up onto white sand beaches, the water that looks like Bermuda green and more.

There is a lot that may or may not work for the couple, the age gap to begin with, where Yasha is 17 while Frances is 21. Also, Frances plans to leave soon, while Yasha wants to stay back.The story ending is open to interpretation and your own imagination and thinking.

I loved the descriptive tone and the fact that even though I have never been to the kind of place that the book uses as its setting, I could see it all....I think that's the beauty of this entire read...

I do recommend you go ahead and read it.....

- Debolina Raja Gupta