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New Light Hardcover – January 1, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Annette Gilson was born in New Jersey and educated at Bard College and Washington University, where she earned her Ph.D. She lived abroad and in New York City for several years, and is currently an associate progessor of creative writing and contemporary literature at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. New Light is her first novel.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Black Heron Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930773772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930773779
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,768,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When Beth Martin wakes up one day feeling she has wasted precious years of her life, she decides to visit her college roommate now living in St. Louis and take what time she needs to get her bearings. While at a party Beth experiences what she feels is a vision, but one that is both disconcerting even while it is also compelling. A chance meeting with a neuroscientist researching the vision phenomenon results in Beth accompanying him to `New Light', a commune in the mountains with a charismatic leader. Here Beth encounters new possibilities and the need to address questions of faith, personality responsibility, jealousy, desire, loyalty, and tolerance. "New Light" by Annette Gilson offers the reader an original and compellingly written excursion into the world of utopian communal living that is a thoughtful, thought-provoking, and consistently entertaining and confidently recommended read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Phil Wade on August 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In Annette Gilson's remarkable debut novel, her narrator, Beth, tells the curious story of her experience in St. Louis shortly after arriving from New York. It opens with what I consider the sticking point of drama, Beth's intense visions. Without explanation or drug use, she feels her spirit burgeon, swelling into the night sky, pressing so close to stars as to feel their burn. Her vision gives her common ground with Houdini White, a scientist who has been studying vision phenomena and the New Age communities which claim to work with them. One of those communities, called New Light, is relatively close by, so Beth and Houdini visit it for several days.

It's a quiet story, broken up by Beth's short discussions of mystical science and conflict between the characters. Gilson's writing carries the tension and mystery effectively throughout the book. (I love the conclusion.) At New Light, Beth and Houdini meet a leader named, The Mother, who cultivates a mystery for the dozens of people living with her. Everyone there is supposed to be a visionary, but each one comes at it differently and all interdependently. Because Beth has experienced vision outside the group, she could have remarkable gifts for their enrichment.

But do these supernatural visions tell them anything? Nothing that deep introspection wouldn't. In this novel, supernature appears to exist as a nebulous expression of oneself. The message resolves to this: watch your world and those in it; be aware of yourself and your surroundings, then maybe you'll have more peace than the people who strive and yearn too much.

Perhaps this is understandable peace, which is the reason the Lord God described his peace as beyond understanding. Like the poor community which doesn't complain about filthy water, the understandably peaceful decide to be content with transcendence that doesn't surpass their skin.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Conner on July 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found Annette Gilson's first novel, NEW LIGHT, to be an adventure story of the extraordinary kind. The psychological journey, led by the main character Beth, takes the reader through several mid-west stopping points, ending at a commune of visionaries called New Light. An array of characters propel and support Beth on her journey, but none more so than the aloof, logical, and observant, Houdini, whose own motivations to visit New Light coalesce with Beth's, forming an unwitting team with catalytic results. It is the spiritual mystery that attracts all of the book's personalities to the idyllic commune. Beth states this concisely near the end of the story, when speaking of New Light's spiritual leader (The Mother), she says:

"The mystery. That was what she offered. The promise that, inside each of us, our true selves carried on their existences, independent of the lives we were forced to lead."

In the end, Gilson leaves Beth, and the reader, with more questions than answers, but that should be expected from a spiritual adventure. Again, Beth states it best during her final confrontation with The Mother:

"I don't think it's necessary to withdraw in order to re-evaluate your life."

While highly recommending NEW LIGHT, I must emphasize that it is by no means a "light" read.
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