Monday 24 February 2014

A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donelly

Somebody from my book group chose A Gathering Light for this month's read.  I didn't realise it was meant as a Young Adult book until someone pointed it out to me.  In fact the library labels YA books on the spine but while my copy did have the label, some copies did not.  Clearly it's a matter of debate as to where the book fits.

Set in 1906, it tells the story of Mattie, a 15-16 year old girl living in the Adirondacks in New York State.  She longs to go to university but at the best of times that's unheard of in the community where she lives, and since the death of her mother, he father needs her on the farm.

The plot has two threads, that of what happens to Mattie, and another that revolves around a drowning based on a true story of a murder.  There are also two time-lines set very close together which I found a little confusing at first until I realised that one was based in the time when Mattie took a job for the summer and the other was earlier the same year.

I found it quick and easy to read, the characters seemed very real, and the descriptions of the setting captured my imagination..
I’d seen a bear cub lift its face to the drenching spring rains. And the silver moon of winter, so high and blinding. I'd seen the crimson glory of a stand of sugar maples in autumn and the unspeakable stillness of a mountain lake at dawn. I’d seen them and loved them. But I’d also seen the dark of things. The starved carcasses of winter deer. The driving fury of a blizzard wind. And the gloom that broods under the pines always. Even on the brightest of days.
Its title in the USA is A Northern Light, and is available from

As A Gathering Light it is available from

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