book reviews , different studio guests each week. Join us every Thursday between 12 and 1pm on Radio Scilly 107.9fm or log on to

Missed any programmes? See below for list of guests, books and other details discussed.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Jennifer Donnelly - A GATHERING LIGHT

 reviewed by Corinna christopher live on bookshow 16th May 2013

The story opens at the lakeside Glenmore Hotel where the body of a young women, Grace Brown  is found, presumably drowned.  It is 1906 and the book is based on a real murder.  The setting is  the Adironback mountains in the U.S.A. and the narrator of this lovely book is Mattie .  Just before Grace embarked upon her fatal boat trip she handed a bundle of letters to Mattie and asked her to dispose of them.  In due course Mattie was to discover these were letters to her lover.

Mattie is the daughter of a local farmer and the eldest girl with three sisters and an older brother who had left home after a quarrel with his father.  Her Mother died of cancer a few years ago and Mattie has the responsibility of looking after the home together with Abby, Lou and the baby of the family Beth.  On their farm they have many different animals and also grow a lot of crops so that each of the girls has to work quite hard.  Pa is a man of few words and has not really got over losing  his wife so  that he is expecting his daughters to cope with everything. 

Mattie is a clever girl who loves to write and read and would like to go to college.  She has the encouragement of her local teacher and manages to win a place in a good college.   She has a  school friend Weaver  a black boy also keen to study but even in this remote area racism rears it’s ugly head and there are unpleasant incidents.  Money is always in short supply and therefore Mattie takes a holiday job at the nearby hotel . It is while there that she reads Grace’s letters and tries to make sense of the tragedy.

Mattie develops a close friendship with Royal the son of a neighbouring farmer and in due course he asks her to marry him.  Up till then all she can think of is escaping to a different life, but how to surmount all the obstacles.  Her mother made her promise to look after the family and Royal cannot understand why she needs all that learning.  Pa will not consider allowing her to leave .  I will leave the reader to discover what takes place

There are excellent descriptions of rural life and several interesting other characters who take part in the narrative.   It is an engrossing and spellbinding
story with the very real and convincing voice of Mattie .

The book is both a murder, a mystery and a romance. A book to lose yourself in and thoroughly enjoyable  This first book by the author has received many glowing reviews.

No comments: