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Shade: A Novel Hardcover – October 7, 2004
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Nina's half-brother, Gregory, makes a pilgrimage home for her funeral, after some thirty years away. There he finds Janie, George's sister and the fourth member of their childhood gang. Together they struggle to make sense of Nina's death and the people they all became.
With Nina's shade as witness, they retrace a story of imaginary friends and hayrides, plays and school dances, a seemingly idyllic Irish childhood beside the mudflats of the River Boyne. As the children reach adolescence, however, they discover that the outside world cannot be kept at bay, and the fragile balance of their friendships is interrupted. Ultimately they will be torn apart by the outbreak of war, brought together again only to find that each has changed almost beyond recognition. And by the end the seemingly senseless crime with which the book begins is revealed in all its full and heartbreaking meaning.
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One of the many glowing blurbs on the dust jacket described it as "elegiac" and it certainly is, but elegiac only takes a book so far. Beyond that, you need interesting characters that the reader cares about, set in a story that moves with a compelling narrative. Perfect example, ATONEMENT. Sadly, SHADE joins the pile of books I put down after wading through more than 100 pages. I could not finish it even though I was trapped on a long airplane flight with nothing else to read.
Shade is beautifully written. Although the pace of this book is leisurely, the characters are compelling and the wonderful descriptions of the landscape around the River Boyne leave you with a real feeling of the place.
If you're looking for a fast-paced ghost story, then this book is probably going to disappoint. However, if you enjoy a haunting story of human tragedy, then I highly recommend this book.
Mr. Jordan's screenplays are wonderful, but this book is pure self-indulgence.