When I first started reading A Gathering Light, I did not know what to expect. I had a feeling I would dislike it. Contrary to my opinions, I enjoyed it. Set in 1906 New York State, the book chapters alternate between July and April. The plot revolves around the main character Mathilda Gokey, known as Mattie. She is striving to go on to a college education and become a writer, while coping with responsibilities on the family farm, and a relationship with the boy next door. But things take a turn for the worse, when both her boyfriend and teacher turn out to be someone they are not. The book then ends with a chilling, real life account of the murder that the book is based on. A great read, which kept me hooked. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend to all. Excellent, fab, stupendous!
I've just finished this book and was totally absorbed by it. Two stories run on parallel grounds. Set in the early 1900's, Mattie is a young lady very torn between her dreams of becoming a writer and family related responsibilities. To add to her dilemmas, she falls in love, feeling more and more confused. Grace is another young lady whose body is found lifeless in the lake by the Glenmore Hotel, where Mattie works. Both girls' tales entwine and merge in a clever and entertaining combination.
The prose is pictorial and detailed, conveying the surroundings, the characters and their feelings so nicely. There's a little gem embedded in the beginning of each chapter, which is not numbered but starts off with the introduction of a new word, as part of a game that Mattie and her friend Weaver play every day to strengthen their vocabulary. Each word is irrelevant to the core of the story but there's always the appropriate space for it, a clever touch. I found myself playing along and testing my own vocabulary!
There are many themes in this book: poverty, racism, love, compassion, hope are but a few. The narrative is creative and clever, with very sad and very funny situations too. The sense of humour conveyed by Mattie is remarkable.
When I started it, I had avoided reading the summary on the back cover (a bit revealing I later realised), but I was glad I did, so that the last part of the book took me completely by surprise. Definitely a timeless novel, I would suggest it for young readers too (15+).
P.S. A little note: "A Gathering Light" and "A Northern Light" are exactly the same book, the second one being the American original title. I was about to buy it when I realised they were the same. Just so you know.
This has to be one of my favourite books written by an American author. I thought that it was a beautiful, realistic portrayal of a teenager's choices and dilemmas.
The novel opens with the death of a girl at a lakeside hotel. It soon transpires that she has been drowned while boating, but the mystery is that there is no sign of her sailing companion. Our heroine, Mattie, was given some letters by the drowned girl with the enigmatic instruction to burn them. Longing to find out more about the girl, Mattie reads the letters. While this happens in the present, we read flashbacks of Mattie's struggle to come to the hotel to work, her longing to be a writer, her romance with the boy she sees as too good for her and the promise that she made to her mother [to look after the family] which is becoming harder to keep.
what an excellent book! I bought this book as I had read the authors other book and thoroughly enjoyed, again she ties in facts from history with her own characters and makes you care for both!! the story follows Mattie at two different stages in her life and intertwines them with a wonderful flow. we can feel mattie grow up and follow her life at this awkward time.
i love this book its exellent. It took me quite a while to get into it, though once i had i realised what an exellent book it was. The story is of Mattie, and also a real life murder that actually happened. You feel so sorry for Mattie all the troubles she has faced in the past and the ones she still has to face. At the end of the book it tells you aboutthe real life murder that actually hapened it makes you feel even more in touch with the book. I think that Jenifer Donelly is one of the best writers around. I hope she is writing some more books, and maybe this might just change the face of writing for teenagers.