My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve said this before, but I must say it again…
Mark Helprin is a Master Wordsmith and story teller.
In Sunlight and in Shadow is a beautiful thing. Helprin tells his story by constructing sentences as though he were delicately placing brush strokes in oil on a canvas. He brings the characters to life so intensely that you become their friends as you read the words. They live initially in this book, later in your heart.
I cannot even tell you here what this book is about. I’m so awed by Helprin’s talents that my words here by comparison couldn’t even begin to explain to you how this story and its characters live and struggle and find love, joy, sorrow, and strength in their journeys. It’s something only Helprin can tell you about.
I’ve been reading since I was about four years old. My mother instilled in me her love of books. I’m forever grateful. And it’s true that I’ve read thousands of books in my life, from cheesy science fiction to the Classics. However, I can probably count on one hand the number of authors as adept as Helprin at telling a story and making you be part of it as you read it.
I’ve never been to New York City. I’m a Florida boy born and raised. Yet, I can see the sights, smell the smells, watch the mass of humanity as it walks down the street or rides the subway. I can hear the clanking of the street cars, smell the scent of the ocean, and feel the cool fall breeze on my face while I read Helprin’s words printed in black on the off-white pages of this book.
This is the kind of book that sucks me in and won’t let go. Helprin’s masterful writing tugs directly on my heart. I’m suspended in time and seem to be sitting in the chair at the same table where the characters are enjoying a lunch together. I can smell the food, hear the low hum of the conversations around us and the squawking laughter of the woman at the far end of the dining room. I hear the tinkle of silverware and crystal.
All this happens when I read a Helprin book. It lasts beyond the folding down of that back cover, as it should with any truly good book. Unfortunately, books are very subjective things. This particular one may not be as wonderful for you as it was for me. That’s the nature of reading. I would suggest you give it a try just to see.