By: Garth Stein
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 20, 2014
New York Times Bestselling Author Garth Stein has mastered a winning formula. With one part closeted skeletons and two parts beauty and grandeur of the Pacific Northwest, Stein has blended these delicious ingredients and created a beautifully baked story in his latest novel, A Sudden Light.
Jones Riddell is at a crossroads with his future. The stability of his marriage is questionable at best given the recent decision his wife has made to leave their Connecticut home and return to her native England (without him and their son). The recent turn of events solidifies Jonesí decision to return to his childhood home, the legendary Riddell House mansion located in the gorgeous timberlands of Seattleís Puget Sound. Jones isnít traveling alone, however. Alongside him is his fourteen-year-old son Trevor.
Itís not easy returning to a place Jones vowed he would never see again. The memory of his father, Samuel, shipping him off to boarding school after his motherís passing over twenty years ago, is one that is still quite real. His sister Serena has grown into an eccentric young woman. Perhaps her quirkiness stems from caring for a father who is on the brink of full-blown dementia. Trevor stands before the magnificent mansion at his fatherís side. Once the family reunion is behind the weary travelers, it doesnít take long for young Trevor to discover there is more to Riddle House than age and historical grandeur. It seems he has become the conduit to the bevy of ghosts that have chosen to communicate their messages. Their insistence on making things right once and for all soon becomes Trevorís burden to share...
Garth Stein is the real deal when it comes to placing words to paper. The life he breathes into his characters is tangible. The main character, Jones Riddle, is a man who carries the burden and complexities of facing the turmoil of a life he could have done differently had the pain of childhood memories and loss of a mother he deeply loved not shadowed his adult years. Stein creates passage upon passage of heartfelt prose that usurps the readerís emotions and leaves the reader deeply connected with his richly developed fictitious people. His set up of the story is brilliant. He takes the reader back to a time when the complexities of emerging technology and daily doses of scandalous politics were not the governing rule. Rather, he places the reader front and center to listen to (now grown character) Trevorís retelling of the story of legendary Riddell House. I have not had the pleasure of reading Mr. Steinís infamous The Art of Racing in the Rain, but after reading A Sudden Light I cannot wait to do so. Stein is the quintessential master of prose and a truly gifted writer. He clearly deserves a vast audience that is undoubtedly awaiting his next great novel. Thank you Mr. Stein for this incredibly beautiful story you have written and titled: A Sudden Light.
Quill says: A Sudden Light shines like a beacon and will undoubtedly; pierce the very depths of emotions in anyone who reads it.