Thursday, April 17, 2014

In Sunlight and In Shadow

Cover image for In sunlight and in shadowIn Sunlight and In Shadow
By Mark Helprin
Mariner Books, 2012. 720 pgs. Fiction

'In Sunlight and In Shadow' is at once both an epic love story, and a deep contemplation of human mortality. The story begins when Harry Copeland, recently returned from a harrowing experience as a paratrooper pathfinder in WWII, chances to see Catharine Hale on the Staten Island Ferry and immediately falls deeply in love with her. She quickly falls for him, but the romance of this story goes far beyond a surface romance and becomes also a love story between the reader and New York, with humanity and with life itself; all the while contrasted with the frailty of our mortality and the shadow that stands in contrast to the sunlight.

The story weaves around themes of war, love, family, honor, duty and art as Catherine and Harry fight for their love, and Harry fights for his business which is being crushed by mob extortionists. Large chunks of the novel are memories of Harry's time in combat, as well as vivid portraits of a post war New York City. As always, Helprin's ('A Winter's Tale', 'A Soldier of the Great War') gorgeous poetic descriptions and philosophical meditations far compensate for any weakness in over all structure. I actually started reading this, but quickly shifted to the audiobook available on Overdrive, which is very well done.


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