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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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

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 Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/5/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 506,632
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 7.93 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City in 1952 and grew up on Long Island. Hoffman’s first novel, Property Of, was written when she was twenty-one. Her short fiction and nonfiction works have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and others. Her novel Practical Magic was made into a major motion picture starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; her young adult novel Aquamarine was made into a movie in 2006. She lives in Boston and New York.

Agnes Herrmann is an actress, voice actress, and audiobook narrator. She has appeared in such films as The Road, Never Escape, and Tomorrow You’re Gone. Among her audiobook readings are Titch by Pat Hutchins and Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman.

Biography

Born in the 1950s to college-educated parents who divorced when she was young, Alice Hoffman was raised by her single, working mother in a blue-collar Long Island neighborhood. Although she felt like an outsider growing up, she discovered that these feelings of not quite belonging positioned her uniquely to observe people from a distance. Later, she would hone this viewpoint in stories that captured the full intensity of the human experience.

After high school, Hoffman went to work for the Doubleday factory in Garden City. But the eight-hour, supervised workday was not for her, and she quit before lunch on her first day! She enrolled in night school at Adelphi University, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English. She went on to attend Stanford University's Creative Writing Center on a Mirrellees Fellowship. Her mentor at Stanford, the great teacher and novelist Albert Guerard, helped to get her first story published in the literary magazine Fiction. The story attracted the attention of legendary editor Ted Solotaroff, who asked if she had written any longer fiction. She hadn't -- but immediately set to work. In 1977, when Hoffman was 25, her first novel, Property Of, was published to great fanfare.

Since that remarkable debut, Hoffman has carved herself a unique niche in American fiction. A favorite with teens as well as adults, she renders life's deepest mysteries immediately understandable in stories suffused with magic realism and a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility. (In a 1994 article for The New York Times, interviewer Ruth Reichl described the magic in Hoffman's books as a casual, regular occurrence -- "...so offhand that even the most skeptical reader can accept it.") Her characters' lives are transformed by uncontrollable forces -- love and loss, sorrow and bliss, danger and death.

Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, but even without Winfrey's powerful endorsement, her books have become huge bestsellers -- including three that have been adapted for the movies: Practical Magic (1995), The River King (2000), and her YA fable Aquamarine (2001).

Hoffman is a breast cancer survivor; and like many people who consider themselves blessed with luck, she believes strongly in giving back. For this reason, she donated her advance from her 1999 short story collection Local Girls to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Good To Know

  • Hoffman has written a number of children's books, including Fireflies: A Winter's Tale(1999), Horsefly (2000), and Moondog (2004).

  • Aquamarine was written for Hoffman's best friend, Jo Ann, who dreamed of the freedom of mermaids as she battled brain cancer.

  • Here on Earth is a modern version of Hoffman's favorite novel, Wuthering Heights.

  • Hoffman has been honored with the Massachusetts Book Award for her teen novel Incantation.
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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
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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.

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      Posted December 16, 2009

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      Posted February 24, 2010

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