Book Review: And the Dark Sacred Night

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And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass. Reviewed by Louise Hilton.

Kit Noonan is going through a midlife crisis.  An academic who’s been out of work for two years, he is floundering, haunted by his lifelong wish to uncover the identity of his biological father, a secret his mother and stepfather Jasper kept from him.  Kit’s wife, out of patience with his sad sack ways, encourages him to revisit his childhood home in search of answers.  The narrative alternates between Kit’s trip back to the gruff but lovable Jasper’s house and flashbacks to his mother’s youth and his own childhood.

If you read Glass’s debut, the National Book Award winner Three Junes, you’ll likely remember Lucinda, Fenno, and Malachy, all of whom play important roles in this novel as well. Glass is a master at portraying different truths of the human condition, in this case, our ineffable need to know where we come from and to feel a connection to our past.  Her characters’ back stories combine seamlessly to lead Kit – and the reader – on his journey of discovery.  I highly recommend this beautifully written, touching novel about family, regret, memory, and, above all, love. The title tells it all: taken from the lyrics “the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night” of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, it reminds us how magical the world really is.

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