Illumination Night

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Illumination Night
by Alice Hoffman

This book gets a big fat MEH, from me. It’s not horrible, it’s just boring. I’ve read and enjoyed some of Hoffman’s other books, like Practical Magic and Blue Diary, so I thought I’d try this one. The novel, set on Martha’s Vineyard, introduces us to a variety of characters, but never really settles into a groove.

One of the major problems is that Hoffman is trying to tell too many stories at once. First there’s Vonny, who has issues with her rich father and is suffering from agoraphobia. Then we have her son Simon, who is far too small for his age, and her husband Andre, who is tempted to have an affair. Add to the mix, Elizabeth, an elderly neighbor with failing health, and her granddaughter Jody, a rebellious teen who moves in with her for the summer. But that’s not all folks! There’s also a giant, perhaps the most interesting character of the book, but we barely scratch the surface of his story.

Throw that all together and try to connect the dots and you end up with a bit of a mess. In the end we aren’t induced to care about any of the characters. Though some of the plot lines are interesting, we never get a chance to become invested in any of them. Skip this one and try another of her books if you’re curious about her work.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This wasn't a favorite Hoffman book for me either.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Yikes. Some authors need to remember that less is more.

care said...

bless you, what a FAB review. Love it.

B said...

Thanks for the heads up. I've never read any Hoffman, but if I do I'll steer clear of this one.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

She's got some other good ones, but this one just isn't worth your time.

Emily said...

there are some of hers that i love, but i always know to pick her up if
I'm in the mood for a book that might meander a bit. I did enjoy The Red Garden, her newest. I'll hold off on this one - thanks for the head's up!

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

That's too bad because she's one of my favorites. It's hard for me when there are too many characters so I'll probably wind up agreeing with you.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Emily - I've been curious about The Red Garden, I'll have to pick it up.

Captain - This one was just over the top. She's better when she's focused on just a couple unique characters.