Lux is a single mom struggling to make her way when she discovers an idyllic community in the Sonoma Valley. It seems like a place from another time until she realizes it actually is. Lux must keep one foot in her world, raising her son as well as she can with the odds stacked against her, but every day she is more strongly drawn in by the sweet simplicity of life in Greengage, and by the irresistible connection she feels with a man born decades before her. Soon she finds herself torn between her ties to the modern world, her adored son and the first place she has ever felt truly at home.
I needed this book in my life.
I don’t know if it was the beautiful cover or the mysterious blurb that made me think this was going to be a very special story, but as soon as I saw it on Goodreads, it immediately grabbed my attention. I couldn’t wait too long to read it because a part of me felt like I was missing out on something great, so I moved it up on my schedule. And I was so in love with it that I ended up reading it while cooking dinner (I couldn’t stop!), which is definitely not something I’d recommend if you’re as clumsy as I am. No, dinner wasn’t especially good that night but I finished this wonderful book and cried a little bit.
I guess that, after devouring a long list of creepy thrillers, dramatic stories and dark mysteries, I needed something more uplifting, and Valley of the moon turned out to be the perfect read in every possible way. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t corny at all: it was the ideal happy place, a book I can see myself re-reading and going back to when I’m not feeling so cheerful.
1975. Lux is a young single mother living in San Francisco who works as a waitress and isn’t very satisfied with her life. She loves her 5-year-old son Benno, but she feels like something is missing. One night in the wilderness, she comes across a mysterious fog and discovers a magical place: an idyllic community living in 1906. Every new full moon, time speeds up but they are still the same. Lux falls in love with their lifestyle and keeps going back there whenever the fog appears. But soon she’ll realize that living two different lives isn’t always easy and she might need to make some sacrifices.
I loved how this was so unique and original (it was apparently inspired by the film Brigadoon, but even so). I never knew what was going to happen next (except for something that I predicted because I knew there was going to be a love story) and I found myself gasping at certain moments, especially the last fifty pages or so. I enjoyed it immensely. The time mechanics didn’t make a lot of sense and there wasn’t a proper explanation, but I think that was the best part of the story: everything was completely random and unexpected and that made it even more special.
This is a meaningful novel about family, friendship and love. About finding yourself and letting go. And about forgiveness. What I liked the most about Valley Of The Moon is the fact that the book wasn’t just about the community, it was about Lux’s journey. The characters were so well-crafted and multi-layered that I felt like they had been with me for a long time. Even the “minor” characters were amazing.
The author masterfully combined detailed and vivid flashbacks with the present narration and I think I hadn’t been so invested in a story and its characters since I read 11/22/63, which is, coincidentally, also about “time travelling”. This is a topic I’ve always loved in films, but I haven’t read many books about it except from that one and The Time Traveler’s Wife. And well, this wasn’t exactly time travelling, but it had the same feeling, like you’re witnessing something bigger than life.
A very special story that I hope you’ll love as much as I did. Don’t miss it.
Ballantine Books, 2016
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.