Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon

by Melanie Gideon

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Overview

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

The author of the critically acclaimed Wife 22 has written a captivating novel about a love that transcends time—perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Time and Again, and the novels of Alice Hoffman.

San Francisco, 1975. A single mother, Lux Lysander is overwhelmed, underpaid, and living on the edge of an emotional precipice. When her adored five-year-old son goes away to visit his grandparents, Lux takes a solo trip to Sonoma Valley—a chance to both lose herself and find herself again.

Awakened at midnight, Lux steps outside to see a fog settled over the Sonoma landscape. Wandering toward a point of light in the distance, she emerges into a meadow on a sunny day. There she meets a group of people whose sweetly simple clothing, speech, and manners almost make them seem as if they are from another time.

And then she realizes they are.

Lux has stumbled upon an idyllic community cut off not only from the rest of the world but from time itself. The residents of Greengage tell a stunned and disoriented Lux that they’ve somehow been marooned in the early twentieth century. Now that she has inexplicably stepped into the past, it is not long before Lux is drawn in by its peace and beauty.

Unlike the people of Greengage, Lux discovers that she is able to come and go. And over the years, Lux finds herself increasingly torn between her two lives. Her beloved son is very much a child of the modern world, but she feels continually pulled back to the only place she has ever truly felt at home.

A gorgeous, original, and deeply moving novel about love and longing and the power that time holds over all of us, Valley of the Moon is unforgettable.

Praise for Valley of the Moon

“The literary equivalent of a farm-to-table delicacy: lovingly handcrafted, delectable and transcendent, becoming more than just a tasty appetizer but a full-course experience of love and time and all the mystical beauty that the region has to offer.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Beautifully written . . . [Valley of the Moon is] a wonderful story about belonging, love and the aching certainty that there’s something more out there . . . sure to appeal to fans of Time and Again or The Time Traveler’s Wife.”Shelf Awareness (starred review) 

“With lovely shades of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Valley of the Moon is a magical, cinematic novel, breathlessly romantic and alive with the love of language.”—Sarah Addison Allen

“An enjoyable magic carpet ride . . . Two narrators, separated by nearly a century, tell a tale of old-time charm and contemporary agita.”Kirkus Reviews

“Captivating.”Booklist

“Gripping . . . This update of Brigadoon is recommended because of its well-crafted twists and thought-provoking insights into different times and cultures.”Historical Novels Review

“A propulsive and at times deeply suspenseful novel . . . [Valley of the Moon] offer[s] powerful and perceptive considerations about the passage of time, the shape of our lives and the often unintended effects our actions have on the people and communities around us.”Bookreporter

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345539304
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 465,945
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Melanie Gideon is the bestselling author of Wife 22 and The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After, as well as three young adult novels. Wife 22 has been translated into thirty-one languages and is currently in development with Working Title Films. She has written for The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Shape, Marie Claire, The Times of London, and other publications. She was born and raised in Rhode Island and now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.


From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Joseph



Valley of the Moon, California

1906

The smell of buttered toast was a time machine. I stepped inside it and traveled back to 1871. Back to London. Back to my childhood kitchen, to the lap-­bounced, sweets-­chunky, much-­loved seven-­year-­old boy I once was, sitting on a stool while Polly and Charlotte flew around me.

Whipping cream. Beating eggs. Chopping parsley and thyme. Oh, their merry gossiping! Their pink cheeks. Nothing scared them, not mice, spiders, nothing. Shoo. All the scary things gone.

“More biscuits, please,” I said, holding out my empty plate.

“No,” said my mother, working the bread dough. She wiped her damp forehead with the heel of her hand. “You’ve had enough.”

If you’d walked into the kitchen at that moment, you’d have had no idea she was the lady of the house, working right alongside the servants. My mother, Imogene Widger Bell, was the only daughter of a knocker-­upper. Her father had made his living by rising at three in the morning to knock on the windows of his customers, waking them like a human timepiece. My mother herself had entered service on her twelfth birthday. She was cheerful, hardworking, and smart and ascended quickly through the ranks. From laundry maid to scullery maid. From kitchen maid to under cook. When she was sixteen, she met my father, Edward Bell (the son of the gardener), by a stone wall. She, enjoying a break, the sun beating down upon her face, the smell of apple blossoms in the air, an afternoon of polishing silver in front of her. He, an assistant groundskeeper, coiled tight, knee-­deep in brambles, and desperate to rise above his class.

Besotted with my mother, he presented a lighthearted façade to woo her, carefully hiding the anger and bitterness that fueled his ambition. His only mistake as he saw it? To have been born into the wrong family. My mother did not see things that way. Her belly was full every night. She worked alongside honest people. Her employers gave her a bonus at Christmas. What more could one ask?

They were terribly ill matched. They never should have married, but they did. And though it took many years, my father eventually did what he’d set out to do: he made a fortune in textiles. He bought a mansion in Belgravia. He hired staff. A lady’s maid and a cook for my mother. A valet for him. They attended concerts and the opera. They became patrons of the arts. They threw parties, they hosted salons, they acquired Persian rugs for every room.

And in the end, none of it mattered: they remained outsiders in the class that my father had hoped to infiltrate. His new “friends” were polite to his face, but behind his back referred to him as “that vulgar little man.” He’d earned his fortune, it was not passed down to him—­they would never forgive him for it. All the bespoke shirts in the world couldn’t hide the fact he was new money.

“Joseph, five minutes and then back upstairs to your schoolwork,” said my mother. “Did you finish your sums?”

“Yes,” I lied.

“No,” said Madeline, the governess, who had appeared in the doorway and was holding out her hand to me. How long had she been standing there?

I groaned and slid off the stool.

“Don’t you want to go to university one day?” asked Madeline.

I should have been in school already. That my mother had convinced my father to allow my sister’s governess to give me lessons at home was a miracle. My father consistently reminded me this would come to an end and I would soon be sent away to a proper school.

If only he knew what really happened at 22 Willoughby Square once he left the house every morning. My mother sailed us out of the sea of oligarchy and into the safe harbor of egalitarianism. We became a community of equals. Titles evaporated. Young Master, Little Miss, Cook, Girl, Mistress, Governess. Poof, gone. Polly, Madeline, even Charlotte, the lowliest kitchen maid, called my mother Imogene.

As a result my education was broad. I was taught not only how to multiply and divide, to read and recite, but how to blacken a stove, how to get candle wax out of a tablecloth, and how to build a fence. Some of the lessons I disliked more than others. Egg gathering, for instance: the chickens terrified me. They’d run after me, pecking at my feet.

“I hate the chickens,” I said to my mother. “Why do you make me go out there?”

“How else will you learn what you love to do?” she said. “You don’t have to like everything, but you must try.”

What my mother loved was greengage plums.

The most sublime-­tasting plum in the world, she always said, but the tree had a fickle temperament and was notoriously difficult to grow. She had a small orchard in the back of our garden. I had never tasted one of her greengage plums, or if I had I couldn’t remember. The last time her trees had fruited, I was a baby. Every July I’d ask if this was the year the plums would come.

“You must be patient,” she told me. “Everything good takes time.”

I was a greedy boy. I stamped my foot. I wanted a plum now.

“How to wait,” she said, looking down at me with pity. “It’s the hardest thing to learn.”

I was always waiting for my mother to come home. Most afternoons she left the house to attend one meeting or another. She was devoted to many causes. Education. Women’s rights. Land reform and the struggles of the working class. She made signs. She marched in the streets. Once she even went to jail with a group of her fellow suffragettes. Much aggrieved, my father went to retrieve her, paying the exorbitant two-­pound bail to set her free. When they walked in the door, my mother looked shy and triumphant. My father was enraged.

“You’ve made me a laughingstock in front of my friends,” he spat at her.

“They are not your friends,” she said, taking off her gloves.

“You have forgotten your place.”

“And you have forgotten where you came from.”

“That is exactly the point!” he bellowed.

They slept in different bedrooms that night and every night thereafter. My father had done everything he could to erase his history and pull the ladder he’d climbed up behind him. He forbade my mother to join any more organizations. She agreed, and instead began holding meetings at the house while he was at work. In her mind, everybody deserved a better life and it was her responsibility as a woman of means to help them achieve it. Unmarried women with children, spinsters, laundresses, jakesmen, beggars, and drunks all traipsed through our doorway and were led into the parlor to discuss their futures.

When I was eight, my mother left. She told me she was going on a painting trip to Provence. She’d been unable to bring herself to tell me the truth: my father was admitting her to an institution. He did it without her consent. He needed only two signatures to have her committed, his and his lawyer’s. Her diagnosis: unstable due to overwork and the inability to handle domestic responsibilities. She was gone for four months.

She returned fifteen pounds lighter and the color of curdled cream. She used the same light, cheery voice she always had with me, but I wasn’t fooled. There was no joy in it anymore. She spoke as if she were standing on the roof of a building in which somebody had forgotten to build the stairs. She’d fight to sustain eye contact when we spoke, but as soon as we stopped our conversation, her gaze would fall to the floor.

It was Charlotte, the kitchen maid, who finally took pity on me and told me the truth. “Painting, my arse. She got locked up by your father. Sent away to the loony bin.”

I didn’t believe her, but the governess corroborated the story. Polly, the cook, too.

“Don’t tell her you know,” said Polly.

“But what do I do?”

“Treat her exactly the way you’ve always treated her,” she said.

“But—­she’s different,” I whined. I wanted my real mother back. The playful, optimistic, bread-­making, injustice-­fighting, eye-­glinting woman who called everybody by their first names no matter what their stations.

“She’ll come back,” said Polly. “You just have to be patient. Sit with her. That’s all you have to do.”

It was easy to sit with my mother. She rarely left the house anymore. Most days, after breakfast and a bath, she retired to the parlor.

“I’ve taken up some lovely new pursuits,” she said. No longer did she work in the kitchen alongside Polly and Charlotte. Instead she sat on the chaise and embroidered, the curtains drawn, the lamp lit, her head bent studiously over her work.

“Shall I read to you?” I asked.

“No, thank you. I prefer the silence.”

“Shall I open the curtains? It’s a beautiful day.”

“I don’t think so. The light is too bright for me.”

“Then I’ll just sit here with you.”

“Wonderful,” she murmured.

I lived on that “wonderful.” A crumb, but I swallowed it down, pretending it was a four-­course meal.

She would come back. Polly said she would. I just had to be patient.

Over the next year she stopped leaving the house altogether. Twilights were especially difficult. Once my mother was a sunflower, her petals spread open to the sky. Now, one by one, her seeds fell out of their pod.

It was a cold day in November that she told me she would be wintering in Spain. She’d developed arthritis, she said. A warmer climate would suit her.

I’d overheard my father talking to his lawyer, making the arrangements, so I knew she was lying—­he was sending her back to the asylum. He’d institutionalized her because he wanted an obedient wife who was satisfied living a quiet, domestic life. Instead she’d been returned to him a ghost. He didn’t know what else to do.

I didn’t know what to do either, but even though I was only nine, I knew locking her away again was not the solution. I threw my arms around her and begged her not to go.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have a choice.” She looked down at me as if I were an inanimate object—­a book or a shawl.

“You’re lying. You’re not going to Spain.”

“Don’t be silly, of course I am.” She pushed me away. “And you’re far too old to be acting this way.”

“Mama,” I whimpered.

For a split second her expression softened and I saw my old mother gazing back at me with empathy and love. But a moment later the light drained out of her eyes.

“Take care of your sister,” she said.

“You must run away,” I cried, desperate. “Someplace he won’t be able to find you. Leave tonight.”

She pursed her lips. “And where would I go?”

“Anywhere.”

“There is nowhere else,” she said.

I wept silently.

A week later, the night before she was due to leave, her bags already packed, my mother lay down on her bed in a long dress like the Lady of Shalott, drank an entire bottle of nervine, and took her last breath. In an instant everything changed. Polly became Cook. Charlotte became Cook’s Girl. Madeline became Governess. I reverted back to Young Master; my sister, Little Miss. And my father packed me off to boarding school.

I would never see the greengage trees fruit again.



My toast had grown hard. The butter congealed. The consequences of time travel.

“A girl,” reported Martha, walking into the kitchen. “Ridiculously long lashes. Dark hair. Looks just like her mother.”

My American wife was an herbalist and midwife, as were her mother and grandmother before her. She carried soiled linens into the scullery.

“Are they still planning on leaving?”

“I assume so.”


From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide

A Conversation with Melanie Gideon

Random House Reader’s Circle: Where did the inspiration for Valley of the Moon come from?
Melanie Gideon: The main inspiration was the movie Brigadoon, which is about a village in the Scottish Highlands that is stuck in time (none of its inhabitants can ever leave). Every evening when the villagers go to bed, a hundred years go by in the outside world but only one night passes for them. Gene Kelly stumbles upon Brigadoon. He falls in love with Cyd Charisse and has an impossible decision to make—-either leave Brigadoon by nightfall, never to see his beloved again, or stay with her and be trapped for a century, at which point everybody in his life will be long gone.
RHRC: Each of your previous books has a very distinct tone and subject matter. How do you see Valley of the Moon as similar to or different from those previous books?
MG: Although Valley of the Moon might seem like a departure from my previous books, both The Slippery Year and Wife 22 had the theme of time set squarely in their sights. Valley of the Moon is, for me, a meditation on time: how it constricts us, traps us, and also ultimately frees us.
RHRC: What is your writing process like and how has it changed from book to book?
MG: My writing process is the same for all my books. I’m a serious plotter and outliner. I never start a book until I have a comprehensive outline, and I usually know the ending of the book as well. After I’ve outlined, I just dive in, and I don’t stop writing until I have a first draft.
RHRC: Greengage is such a special place—-was it inspired by a real community in your life?
MG: Greengage is an amalgamation of the farm in South County, Rhode Island, where my family lived when I was a child and the camp I attended from the ages of twelve to eighteen. The farm was a magical place where I developed a profound connection to the natural world. Camp was a yearly plunge into communal living, a way of life I still long for today.
RHRC: Time travel is clearly a subject that has fascinated the popular imagination for a long time. Why do you think the fantasy of traveling through time is so appealing?
MG: Because who wouldn’t want to step through a portal into another time, if only for a few hours? To sneak in and experience the Middle Ages, ancient Greece, or the Gilded Age and then pop right back out into your own time? Of course, in all the best time--travel books there’s always a caveat, a price to be paid for that experience. You can’t time--travel without being fundamentally changed or fundamentally changing your environment. That’s part of the thrill and the heartbreak of the fantasy.
RHRC: What are some of your favorite books or movies that deal with the theme of time?
MG: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis—-not a true time--travel book, but a book that plays with time. Time and Again, by Jack Finney, in which the protagonist lives for months in a perfect replica of a nineteenth--century apartment in New York City, convincing himself through self--hypnosis that it’s 1882. Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, in which a woman in 1976 finds herself hurled back through time to a pre–-Civil War plantation. And finally The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, unique in that it’s told from the point of view of both the time traveler and the wife he leaves behind.
RHRC: Lux finds a place that seems to feel like home in a time very distinct from her own. Do you personally ever wish you could have lived in another time? When would it be?
MG: The late 1800s, just like Lux, and the place would be a community similar to Greengage. I suppose I created the world for Lux that I wanted most to time--travel to.
RHRC: Was there any special research you had to do to bring the 1900s and 1970s to life so vividly?
MG: For the early 1900s, one of my best and most inspirational sources was Jack London’s novel The Valley of the Moon, which was published in 1913. I also read books on farming methods from that time period, as well as guides to Victorian life. One indispensable treasure trove was the American Decades series, comprehensive tomes addressing everything from world events, to the arts, to fashion, to medicine and health. For the 1970s, I looked partly to my own memories and sense of that time, and for a more cultural perspective on 1960s to 1980s San Francisco, David Talbot’s Season of the Witch.
RHRC: What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
MG: I hope first and foremost that they are entertained, and I hope that they’re moved. Valley of the Moon is a coming--of--age story. It’s about loss and redemption, about families, about the unbreakable bonds between parents and children, and about the bittersweet nature of the passage of time.

1. Greengage is designed after Joseph’s idea of an ideal society. What would your Greengage look like?

2. Discuss the development of Lux’s character throughout the novel. How does she change as a result of knowing Joseph and visiting Greengage?

3. Lux sometimes inadvertently disappoints the people she is closest to—-her relationship with Dash disappoints her father, for example, and Benno is hurt by her disappearance for a year. Do you think hurting others is an unavoidable cost of trying to be true to yourself? Would you have behaved differently in either of these situations?

4. Discuss the theme of belonging in the novel. What does it mean to belong, both in terms of physical space and in terms of relationships?

5. What does Lapis Lake represent for Lux? Why do you think she has trouble slipping into “lake time” on her last visit?

6. Lux tells Benno that “sometimes fear is the thing that makes you feel most alive.” Do you agree or disagree? What are some risks the characters take that pay off in the end?

7. Discuss the meaning of time throughout the book. How does it both constrain and liberate the different characters?

8. Compare and contrast the different parent--child relationships in the book. How do you think Lux’s relationship with her dad shapes her relationship with her son?

9. Imagine the novel told from Benno’s perspective. How would that change the story? What do you think Joseph and Greengage mean to him?

10. An early title idea for the book was The Flower Clock. What do you think the significance of Martha’s clock is, and how does it represent some of the themes of the story?

Customer Reviews

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Valley of the Moon: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Picked this for my bookclub after reading the dust jacket. So glad, it was enthralling and emotionally satisfying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and fascinating on many levels. Who is to say. Definite five.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
Valley of the Moon is magical realism, a genre I don’t read enough of because the books are hard to find. It was recommended to me by Angela @ Musings of a Literary Wanderer after I posted about writing for Country Woman magazine. I hadn’t heard of this book, but once I saw it compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife, one of my favorite books, I knew I had to read it. And I’m so glad I did. Lux is a single mother living in California with her 5-year old son, Benno. She’s estranged from her father, but still fairly close with her mother in New England, so she sends her son out to visit for 2 weeks. During that time she goes camping in the Valley of the Moon. When a mysterious fog rolls in at midnight, she wanders into Greengage, a communal farm that was trapped in the fog after the 1906 earthquake. Over the years Lux returns to Greengage, when the fog appears (it doesn’t always appear on the full moon), and it’s the first place she feels she truly belongs. This book was indeed similar to The Time Traveler’s Wife. It has character development and relationships that build over many years, which I normally hate, but because of the slightly magical elements and the lovable characters, it worked really well for me. I felt for Lux right away. Her life was hard, and she deserved the breaks she got when she visited Greengage. Likewise, Joseph, the founder of Greengage (which isn’t at all religious), had a lot of pressure on him, trying to keep up a front when the 200-odd people living there were very concerned about their predicament. I found the story only mildly predictable and thoroughly enjoyable. This book is long, but it didn’t seem to drag at all. I was hooked from the end of chapter 2 when Lux stumbles into Greengage. I’m so grateful to Angela for her recommendation, and I have a feeling this is a book I will return to again in the coming years. There’s a lot of great character growth and a very solid story. http://opinionatedbooklover.com/review-valley-of-the-moon-by-melanie-gideon/
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: She spoke as if she were standing on the roof of a building in which somebody had forgotten to build the stairs. It's odd, isn't it? ... How quickly something unbelievable becomes believable. The door to a long-abandoned room inside me that I hadn't even known existed until this minute began to open. Sweet, fresh air poured in. It's a balancing act now, you understand? It's the hardest thing about being a parent. Holding on and letting go simultaneously. You, Lux, are possibility... You are all the doors opening at once. This was how great change happened. Suddenly and all at once - fate jumped the tracks. An airplane flew into a building. A cough was diagnosed as stage four cancer. A fertilized egg embedded itself in a womb. All of us lived on fault lines. We just pretended we didn't. My Review: I rarely dabble with the paranormal genre but something in the synopsis caught my eye when the book was first mentioned to me. I want to send the person who recommended this tale an expensive gift, as I truly adored this exceptionally well-written and captivating work. I was quickly drawn in by the high quality of the writing and the moving and emotive storyline. It was highly imaginative, enchanting, heart-squeezing, and full of feels. The author did a splendid job of capturing the emotions, frustrations and thought patterns of each character at each age and emotional period of their lives. And the characters, I loved them! They were unique and quirky, well-drawn, complicated, endearingly flawed, knowable, lovable. I was enchanted. The writing was smartly done, well-detailed, atmospheric, clever, thoughtful, and thoroughly fathomed my emotions. I had to stop and consider how I would personally struggle to explain 70 years of history... what events would I attempt to impart to an innocent and eager audience in the early 1900s? What dates, facts, trends would I remember and attempt to explain? Would I want to burden them or twist their minds with the horrors or war, and unexplainable madness and atrocities allowed to occur with little restraint such as Hitler, 9-11, HIV/AIDS, Watergate, Timothy McVeigh, Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover? The story was highly creative and just ingenious, complex yet easy to follow, imaginative, highly entertaining, and well crafted. I am stunned by my reaction to a genre I typically avoid, and even a day later find that I am still contemplating and in awe of the author's deft handling and skills. Ms. Gideon is the latest addition to my list of talented authors to fangirl.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon is a unique novel. Lux Lysander lives in San Francisco, California in 1975. Lux is a single mother of a five-year-old (Bennett) and a waitress at an Irish pub in North Beach. While her son, Benno (his nickname) is visiting his grandparents in Rhode Island, Lux has decided to go on a camping trip. She needs to get away for a while. Lux going on a camping trip in the Sonoma Valley (Lux calls in Valley of the Moon). Something awakens her at midnight and she sees a strange fog. She sees a light and goes to investigate. As far as Lux knows there should not be any homes nearby. Lux heads towards the light and emerges to find a barn. Upon further investigation, Lux finds a whole village. The people here speak differently and wear old fashioned clothing. Joseph Beauford Bell lives in Greengage. A community he established in San Ellen, California. This community set up where everyone is equal (whether they are rich, poor, white, Hispanic, Catholic, Episcopalian, etc.). All the residents get a fair wage and a share in the profits. The community has about 300 residents along with Joseph’s sister, Fancy who is visiting when there is a big earthquake in 1906. After the earthquake tremors die down, a strange fog envelops Greengage. When residents try to leave, they die in the fog. In all this time no one has ever come looking for them or stumbled into their town, until Lux. Lux feels such a peace in this unique town. The people are hopeful that they can now leave, but it is not to be. Lux enjoys her visit to Greengage, but she soon has to leave. She discovers that time moves differently in the two worlds. It goes faster in the real world. Lux has to be careful how much time she spends in Greengage (dreadful consequences). And she can only return when there is a full moon and then wait for the fog to appear. But the fog is not consistent in its appearance. As the years go by Lux is more torn between these two worlds. But Lux has her son to consider. Will Lux ever be able to stay in the world that feels like home? Valley of the Moon was an interesting story. I liked it, but the pace is a little slow. The writing is also a flat. It needed a little more excitement or action. I liked the characters especially Joseph and the town of Greengage. Valley of the Moon is really a romance novel about two people who meet despite the chasm of time. I give Valley of the Moon 4 out of 5 stars. The book did hold my interest and I was curious to see what choice Lux would make in the end. The book does have a strange ending. If you enjoy unique, romance novels, then you will like Valley of the Moon. I received this novel in exchange for an honest review. The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.
Darcy714 More than 1 year ago
In Valley of the Moon, protagonist Lux Lysander struggles through day to day life as a single mom working as a bartender in the 1970’s when, one summer while her son is visiting his grandparents, she goes camping in Jack London State Park and inadvertently time travels to a small farm in 1906. Finding that she can travel back and forth between this farm in the past and her present on certain full moons, Lux begins spending as much time as she can at Greengage farm. There is a danger to these visits however, because sometimes time outside the farm unexpectedly speeds up and she runs the risk of being gone much longer in her time. Lux must weigh the benefits of her life at Greengage with the risks of upsetting her present life each time she visits. Author Melanie Gideon has done a great job of writing a science fiction story that will appeal to both science fiction and general fiction readers. There were parts of the story that I disagreed with – sometimes an obstacle would be wrapped up in a way that was far too neat and tidy and the ending was disappointing for me in particular (see spoiler) – but I won’t deny that I whipped through the book. One thing that really jumped out at me was how talented Melanie Gideon is at writing children. Benno and VIvi and Penny really leapt off the page to me, and as a young mom myself I loved reading their antics and seeing their little personalities. Overall I think this book had more sad parts than I had expected which diminished my enjoyment a bit but the characters were strong and the idea very interesting. I wasn’t entirely sure how Lux knew when to go home in the first few days to avoid getting caught or why she couldn’t return if the fog was always there on Greengage but overall I thought the idea well thought out. Not my favorite book, but I think that is my own bias as the writing is good and the main characters well fleshed out. Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ****Spoiler******: I was confused with why Gideon bookended the story with the 1906 and 1911 earthquake but then brought the time in Lux’s world to 1988 then jumped to 2064. What happened to the 1989 earthquake in Lux’s time period? Shouldn’t that have affected Greengage somehow? It was confusing. Did it cause the huge jump in time? I also was taken off guard by the fact that Lux’s son is not only gone but has died before she could get back to her time. This was incredibly sad and I wasn’t prepared for such a heartbreaking ending. I suppose the ending could be said to be bittersweet in many ways, I just didn’t see it coming.
Myndia More than 1 year ago
Holy tears, Batman! What an emotional roller coaster that was. In hindsight, I wish I was writing this review right after I’d finished, but it was 1am (it was THAT good!), and I probably couldn’t have seen the screen through my water-filled eyes. And there would have been a lot of written blubbering and might have been a little raw and nonsensical because this book burrowed into my heart and broke it, and then lightened it, and then broke it again. It was happy-sad. So very, very happy-sad. Oh my god, the overwhelming feels of it all! How do I even begin to explain what this book is about? In a nutshell, it’s about relationships – with our parents, our children, our lovers, and ourselves. It’s about expectations, not knowing definitively what we want, but maybe knowing what we don’t want, about growing into the person we should/can/want to be, about making sacrifices for those we love, and sometimes unintentionally sacrificing those we love as a consequence of pursuing what we want/need. There is so much in this book that I could relate to. Unintentionally pregnant at 19? Check. Raising a child with little support (mostly because I was burdened by my own pride)? Check. Pain of separation from child for an extended period of time? Check. Trying to figure out how to have any semblance of the life you thought you’d have while meeting the needs and responsibilities that come along with being a parent? Check. And on and on and on…it was painful and therapeutic to go on this journey with Lux, to see her find herself, try to balance what she needed with what was best for her son, navigating the unknowns and just hoping that it would all work out in the end. I cried a thousand ugly tears about a million different times. A Gorgeous, unusual, heart-wrenching and genius. I loved every bit of this book. Without a doubt it will be a book I recommend again and again. Easily top 5 for this year. Must. Read. Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
ScotsLass More than 1 year ago
In The valley of the Moon, Melanie Gideon introduces us to Lux Lysander and a time travel novel that reminds the reader of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Lost Horizon with it’s Shangri-La, the movie Brigadoon, and a little Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe but stands on its own. Lux is a single mother of Benno trying to get by in a world that she doesn’t quite fit into. Her only support family consists of her friends who are residents of the old Victorian home where she lives in San Francisco. Her parents are living but she is estranged from them because she feels that she has not lived up to their expectations. She feels this disconnect most strongly with her father. She used to love the time she and her father spent together camping. In an effort to remember more pleasant times, she goes camping by herself in a valley just north of San Francisco while her son is visiting his grandparents. The valley is named the Valley of the Moon. During the first night there, a fog moves in and when Lux awakens in the very early hours of the morning all she can see is a distant light. Walking towards the light she finds herself in the community of Greengage. Greengage is a farming community trapped following the earthquake of 1906. Time has slowed down for the inhabitants of this community. There, Lux meets the founder of the community Joseph Bell, his wife Martha, his sister Fancy and the other wonderful people of the community. This begins a wonderful tale of finding community, acceptance, and a feeling of self worth and happiness that Lux has been lacking. How Lux navigates between both worlds makes a beautiful and heart-warming story. The characters are all well developed and the story ‘s smooth switching back and forth between times is interesting. The challenges that Lux faces caught between two the times are at times are unexpected and sometimes unforgivable. Sometimes we all wish to return to a simpler, slower more meaningful time in the past. Has Lux found it? Don’t forget the tissue for this one.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Melanie Gideon and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This was a book I could not put down. From start to finish, this is a very compelling tale, and despite the different voices of the protagonists, the leaps back and forth through time and place, it is a very easy to follow story. Melanie Gideon will go on my list of authors I have to follow, and this is a book I will want to read again in a more leisurely pace. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy sci-fi, time travel, and romances.
MusicInPrint More than 1 year ago
Getting to know Lux and Joseph is a back and forth narrative from both view points. Joseph lives in the Valley of the Moon year 1906. Lux lives in San Francisco 1975. Joseph has built a community called Greengage that is self sufficient paradise . All is well and the people are happy until the earthquake which causes a fog to lock Greengage away from the outside world and time itself. Lux on a camping trip journeys into the fog and back in time. So the story tells of Lux traveling back and forth between the world of peace and the world of reality as a single mother. Reminded me a bit of Brigadoon movie of 1954; one of my favorite. Time travel, heartache, and the path to happily ever after. Furnished through NetGalley for an honest review.
LettyB More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a unique, wonderful, well-written book! Single mom Lux takes a little time for herself by going on a camping trip while her young son visits her parents. Waking up in the middle of the night, she walks into a heavy fog and finds herself in what she thinks is some type of commune. There she is welcomed by Joseph, his wife Martha and the rest of the community and finds out she has traveled back to 1906. I won't go into too much detail about what happens because obviously I do not want to spoil the story, but I was engrossed in this story from the very beginning and loved the characters from both time periods. The chapters do alternate between Lux and Joseph so we get their current and past histories. The ending was a bit emotional and bittersweet that left me just sitting in my bed thinking about it for a long time. I really, really loved this book and recommend it most highly!! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance reader's copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
MsArdychan More than 1 year ago
Please Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the opinions in my review in any way. How can I describe this book? If I needed to explain it to one of my friends, I would say it has similar elements with The Time Traveler's Wife and Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. I would also go on to say that it was wildly entertaining! The book begins set in a communal farm in Sonoma in 1906. A whole community with it's joys, along with it's tensions, discovers an unusual fog that seems to trap them on the estate. What is happening? How long will they be stuck there? Fast forward to 1970 San Francisco where Lux, a struggling single mother, goes camping and wanders in to a mysterious fog... This story is about how the lives of the people in 1906 intertwine with Lux's life. I loved how the book mingled the backstories of Lux and Joseph with what was going on around them. This is more than a fantasy book. Author Melanie Gideon explores the effects our childhoods have on the kind of people we become as adults. I was very moved by how Lux's connection with her father changed as she reached her teen years. Sadly, these can be make or break years in parent-child relationships which take years (if ever) to repair. I also enjoyed the distinct time periods of 1906 vs. more modern times. The shock of the differences is felt by both the people on the farm and Lux. Would you want to know what will happen sixty or seventy years from now? Would you feel cheated that you missed out, or relieved that you wouldn't live to see what humanity has done to itself? Are you sure about that, friend? I think the author is trying to show us is that knowledge and growth come at a price. I don't think she is saying that we shouldn't try to find things out, but that we need to understand that we will change as an outcome of our new realizations. I think this is a charming book that will leave you thinking about it for many weeks afterwards.