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Claire of the Sea Light (Vintage Contemporaries) Kindle Edition

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Length: 258 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In interlocking stories moving back and forth in time, Danticat weaves a beautifully rendered portrait of longing in the small fishing town of Ville Rose in Haiti. Seven-year-old Claire Faustin’s mother died giving birth to her. Each year, her father, Nozias, feels the wrenching need to earn more money than poor Ville Rose can provide and to find someone to care for Claire. Gaelle Lavaud, a fabric shop owner, is a possible mother for the orphaned child, but she is haunted by her own tragic losses. Bernard, who longs to be a journalist and create a radio show that reflects the gang violence of his neighborhood, is caught in the violence himself. Max Junior returns from Miami on a surreptitious mission to visit the girl he impregnated and left years ago and to remember an unrequited love. Louise George, the raspy voice behind a gossipy radio program, is having an affair with Max Senior, head of the local school, and teaches the ethereally beautiful Claire. Their stories and their lives flow beautifully one into another, all rendered in the luminous prose for which Danticat is known. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The best-selling Danticat’s (Brother, I’m Dying, 2007) return to fiction after nine years is sure to be highly anticipated --Vanessa Bush


'Magnificent ... this is a book that draws its power from its clear-eyed look at both love and decay' Kamila Shamsie, Guardian. 'A jewel - a remarkable book, as luminous as its title' Ann Patchett. 'A haunting new novel ... Writing with lyrical economy and precision, Ms. Danticat recounts her characters' stories in crystalline prose that underscores the parallels in their lives' New York Times.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3245 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307472272
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 27, 2013)
  • Publication Date: August 27, 2013
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BO4GR4Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,043 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve years old. She graduated from Barnard College and received an M.F.A. from Brown University. She made an auspicious debut with her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, and followed it with the story collection Krik? Krak!, whose National Book Award nomination made Danticat the youngest nominee ever. She lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Claire of the Sea Light" is a marvelous and multifaceted literary gem that dazzles with the author's trademark elegant, vivid, lyrical prose. The novel reads like a collection of interlocking short stories. The stories concern different characters living in and around the community of Ville Rose, Haiti, a place that's "home to eleven thousand people, five percent of them wealthy or comfortable, the rest poor, some dirt-poor."

Each chapter forms a more-or-less self-contained story. The experience of reading these stories was like wandering through a beautiful literary gallery. Slowly, as I devoured the details of these stories, I started to see patterns. I noticed that all of the stories contained a single element that transects the others at a key period in time. That period is the day of Claire's seventh birthday. In the end--and then only through thoughtful retrospect--I finally comprehended the many separate threads that pull together to create the whole. The ending is brilliant and exquisite...frankly, I was a bit awe-struck.

Although the book is named after this child and her birthday serves as the focal point for the interlocked stories, the novel actually focuses on the lives of six Haitian adults, four men and two women. The book is also rich in secondary characters. If this novel has a major theme, it can be summed up by this Haitian creole phrase that is often repeated by different characters throughout the work: fòk nou voye je youn sou lòt - we must all look after one another.

This is a psychologically rich, character-driven, literary novel; it is quiet but powerful; it is gripping in its emotional depth. After I finished this novel, I had no desire to read anything else for a few days.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Read-A-Lot on December 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Are we predetermined to heap praise on particular books because of the author's reputation? Dare I be a dissenting voice in the sea of "wonderful," "great," and "fantastic" adjectives attached to this novel. Isn't the phrase "well written" a bit overused? Indeed that is the minimal expectation, is it not? These are the questions that immediately came to mind upon finishing the novel.

So, yes the prose is majestic however the story is disconnected and not really memorable. It is an ok effort from Ms. Danticat. I thought the first part was strong, and was eager to see how it all tied together. Much to my chagrin, the story never does colligate to a central theme.

We are left with characters who are related by location, but no relevance to any grand tie in that the novel desperately needs. So, is the story about Claire? The sea? The small town of Ville Rose? Well, it is a bit about all this and more. It really comes off as a collection of stories coming from this small fishing hamlet that is vividly described by the author's talent. Claire is not on many pages, which I find interesting given the book's title.

She really is is not a central character although the circumstances surrounding her birth hint to be. Not sure, what Ms. Danticat was after, but many paths are left unexplored in favor of peripheral characters who readers may feel don't add to the narrative. I would term this one a small disappointment.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sam Sattler on September 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Claire, because her mother died giving birth to her, lives alone with her father in a little Haitian shack by the sea. Nozias, her father, knows that he is incapable of raising a daughter alone, and on each of her last two birthdays he has tried to give her away to a better home - and he hopes, to a better life. Finally, on Claire's seventh birthday, a wealthy woman has agreed to take Claire home with her. Claire, despite knowing that such a day was inevitable, does not react well to the news and runs away before she can be handed off to her new mother.

"Claire of the Sea Light" is divided into two Parts, each part consisting of four stories from people in Claire's neighborhood. Some of them she knows well; some she has never met. There are memories from Claire's father, the woman who has agreed to take her, the headmaster from Claire's school, the headmaster's son, a close friend of the headmaster's son, a radio hostess who delights in exposing those who take advantage of the less fortunate among them, and from Claire herself. The eight pieces work beautifully together to tie all the central characters into the night in which Claire disappears. (The book begins and ends with Claire's story.)

This is a frank look at contemporary life in Haiti, one in which hard choices are sometimes forced upon those struggling to feed their families and keep them together. Its characters are grim reminders of life in a poor country the rest of the world is pretty much content to ignore. Edwidge Danticat is a talented writer whose work has been chosen as a National Book Award finalist, an American Book Award winner, a Pen/Faulkner Award finalist, and a Story Prize.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Pretty Brown Girl VINE VOICE on June 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Claire of the Sea Light is a novel that read almost like a series of short stories of characters connected directly and indirectly to the novel's namesake Claire, a young, motherless girl who lives with her father in a Haitian sea village.

The novel danced on magical folklore, myth/superstition, and was steeped in a strong sense of community and duty. It is a folksy novel that explores a parent's love, a child's desire to please, and lovers' remorse.

While I didn't have any misgivings about the novel, I had trouble empathizing with the characters -- including the child Claire. All the characters had their secrets and while in my opinion, I found the "reveals" a bit obvious and predictable which disappointed me as a reader. I guess I expected a bit "more."

I think fans of the author will embrace this story as it aligns with her previous work which brings sympathy and hope to the depths of poverty.
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