A Sudden Light: A Novel by Garth Stein


A not so bright light…..  ***


Some novels make you say “Wow”, some are not very good, and some fall in between.  This would be an in between novel.

The writing is good from a technical viewpoint. The characters are bland and one dimensional. The story is predictable and there are no surprises.  The main character, Trevor, is telling the story of what happened when he was fourteen.  The problem is that his interaction with his father, which is one layer in the story, doesn’t ring true.  Much of his conversation with his father is beyond what a boy of that age would say.

Serena, who is Trevor’s aunt, is supposed to be a femme fatal but Stein doesn’t develop her to the extent he could have.  The family history is the backdrop for this story but also adds too many layers to the novel.  We learn about the timber industry, boat building, and what gay relationships were like in the early 1900’s. All of which is fascinating but not gripping.

This is one of those books that when you finish it you say, “okay, what book am I going to read next?”.   This one gets three stars.

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