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New Light Hardcover – January 1, 2010
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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.
Top customer reviews
Insights into the mysteries of mind and body, the human need for friendship, acceptance, artistic expression, and sex, are conveyed in such natural terms during conversations, as well as Beth’s own thought processes, that the novel doesn’t feel academic in its approach. Intrigue builds as incidents at the commune become more inexplicable and even dangerous.
"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.
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.