Illumination Night

( 3 )

Overview

Beginning on the night of the Grand Illumination, a festival of lanterns held each summer on Martha’s Vineyard, this novel is a modern chronicle of a marriage and a bittersweet exploration of an extraordinary passion. Illumination Night follows the lives of a young blond giant who is as beautiful as he is frightening; an old woman at the end of her life whose last mission is to save her granddaughter’s soul; a family torn apart by a wife’s fears and a husband’s unrealized desires—and the high school girl who ...

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Illumination Night: A Novel

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Overview

Beginning on the night of the Grand Illumination, a festival of lanterns held each summer on Martha’s Vineyard, this novel is a modern chronicle of a marriage and a bittersweet exploration of an extraordinary passion. Illumination Night follows the lives of a young blond giant who is as beautiful as he is frightening; an old woman at the end of her life whose last mission is to save her granddaughter’s soul; a family torn apart by a wife’s fears and a husband’s unrealized desires—and the high school girl who comes to Martha’s Vineyard against her will, who steals husbands and cars, and who will bring everyone together in a web of yearning, sin, and ultimate redemption. Both riveting and reflective, this is a story of “parenthood and friendship, self-protection and generosity, dream and disillusionment” (Newsday) that brings to light the talent that has made Alice Hoffman an acclaimed bestselling author.

Elizabeth is an elderly widow suffering from spells of fantasy and failing sight. Andre and Vonny are a young couple trying to make ends meet. Jody is a teenage runaway. On the island of Chilmark near Martha's Vineyard, they all come together. "Haunting, fable-like."--Cosmopolitan.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Daringly mixing comedy with tragedy…[Hoffman] has created a narrative that somehow makes myth out of the sticky complexities of contemporary marriage…Her characters are branded onto one’s memory.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Vivid, convincing characters…uncommon insight.”—People

“[A] bright constellation of characters…draws the reader into the dusky, dreamy world of Alice Hoffman.”—St. Petersburg Times

“Alice Hoffman takes seemingly ordinary lives and lets us see and feel extraordinary things.”—Amy Tan

“Not-so-delicate questions are raised in a wonderfully delicate way in Alice Hoffman’s latest novel… Explorations of the tangled strands of parenthood and friendship, self-protection and generosity, dream and disillusionment are made achingly vivid by Hoffman’s ability to ground them in the finely etched details of her characters’ daily lives.”—Newsday

“There is a cumulative power to Illumination Night that is wondrous…It’s enough to make one search out other books by Alice Hoffman.”—The Chicago Tribune

“Reading an authentic prose stylist of high order is an uncommon privilege.”—The Boston Globe

“Alice Hoffman hits bull’s eyes on the incomprehensions between the young and the old, on the magic and pain of ordinary life. She is erotic and romantic…funny…clever and humane.”—The Times (London)

Gwyneth Cravens
Subtle touches here and there make this intelligent novel shine. Ms. Hoffman knows how to tell a story in clear language and how to avoid subordinating the meanderings of temperament to logic or plot.
New York Times
Cleveland Plain Dealer
One of the best writers we have today-insightful, funny, intelligent, with a distinctive voice.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With an eye for household details and respect for daily events, Hoffman Fortune's Daughter unleashes the mythic forcefulness of ordinary life in this polished story of love and loneliness set on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Simon is in his fourth year and small even for his age when he sees white-robed Elizabeth Renny, a neighbor in her 75th, tumble out her attic window ``like a cloud.'' In her convalescence, Elizabeth is cared for by her rebellious teen-aged granddaughter Jody, sent from off-island. Jody sets her sights on Simon's father, Andre, who restores antique motorcycles, raising doubts and fears in Vonny, Simon's mother, Andre's wife. Elizabeth recovers; Jody pines and plots for the taciturn Andre; Simon doesn't grow; and Vonny's anxieties bloom into full-fledged agoraphobia. Seasons advance. Jody learns the limits of her desires and meets a freakishly tall eggman; a child dies, another grows; Elizabeth decides she'd rather live than die; and Vonny faces her fears. Illumination Night, an annual celebration on Martha's Vineyard when Victorian houses surrounding a park and bandstand are lit with hundreds of magical Japanese lanterns, provides apt title and image for this shimmering, radiant tale. August 14
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425183267
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/5/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 337,547
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice  Hoffman

Alice Hoffman is the author of fifteen novels: Blue Diary (2001), The River King (2000), Local Girls (1999), Here On Earth (1997), Practical Magic (1995), Second Nature (1994), Turtle Moon (1992), Seventh Heaven (1990), At Risk (1988), Illumination Night (1987), Fortune’s Daughter (1985), White Horses (1982), Angel Landing (1980), The Drowning Season (1979), and Property Of (1977). She is also the author of three children’s books: Aquamarine (2001), Horsefly (2000), and Fireflies (1997).

Born in New York City, and raised on Long Island, Hoffman graduated from Adelphi University and received an M.A. from Stanford University, where she was Mirrielees Fellow. She currently lives near Boston with her family and her dogs.

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    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 16, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2003

    A beautifully written, bittersweet tale

    In this novel, Ms. Hoffman crafts a story of the ordinary lives of several Martha's Vineyard inhabitants with grace and a loving hand. You empathize with every single one of the central characters here. A wonderful story about the human spirit and its ability to either plunge one into despair or soar one triumphantly to a plain of self-contentment. Well worth reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2009

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    Posted February 24, 2010

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