Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Recommendation: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

In A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly, the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy (as well as the Academy Award-winning movie, A Place in the Sun) serves as the backdrop for the story of Mattie Gokey, whose life is limited to caring for her motherless sisters and dreaming of a life as a writer.  When a young woman's drowned body is brought to the hotel where Mattie works, she becomes involved as she realizes that the young woman is the same person who had earlier given her a bundle of letters and asked her to destroy them.  Mattie is torn between keeping her promise and revealing the contents of the letters, which suggest that the woman has been murdered.  Mattie must also make a decision about her future, to follow her talent and dream of being a writer by accepting a scholarship to Barnard College or to stay where she is and comply with family expectations by marrying a local man. 

This story reminds us of the narrow choices that women had just 100 years ago and is especially interesting, due to the tie-in with a true story, as well as an earlier novel and movie.  As I mentioned in an earlier recommendation, Mattie reveals a growing understanding about when she comments that some books tell stories (showing you life as you want it to be) and some books tell truths (showing you life as it really is). The first kind, she says, makes you cheerful and contented and the second shakes you up.  I enjoyed A Northern Life for these insights into a budding writer, as well as the plot development and the mystery.

You can find A Northern Life at your local public library, or through Amazon.

Happy Reading!
Annie
                                             

5 comments:

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

This does sound like a good book. I am so behind on my reading right now (with a stack of books to be read waiting on my desk). Hopefully I'll get to this one soon. You left a comment on my post about the fireworks in Memphis. It is such a spectacular display, and you're right, if you can get a spot in one of those buildings on the river front, or in a boat on the river, you have a front-row seat. We were able to do that several times when I was a child. Just minutes ago, they announced on the news that due to lack of corporate sponsors, Memphis would not have the firework display this year! I've lived within an hour of Memphis for almost 60 years, and I have never known of them to not have the fireworks. laurie

Annie Joy said...

That's disappointing about the fireworks. I also remember going to the Cotton Carnival when I was a kid. One year, I heard a great new singer named Pat Boone! We only get to Memphis about once a year now; I always look forward to it.
Annie

Diane said...

I've been anxious to read this Donnelly book; thanks for sharing your thoughts Annie.

You will like The Murderer's Daughters I think. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Writing Without Periods! said...

I will have to try this book. I've been looking for something good and different to read this summer. Thanks.
Mary

The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in from Lady Bloggers! That sounds fascinating! I think we forget how many choices we have as women now days.

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