Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Not your ordinary novel

Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman's Skylight Confessions (2007) is a multi-generation novel that is surprisingly short, a ghost story that doesn't give goosebumps, a love story in which the dominant emotions are hate and resentment, and a fairy tale that is all too real. In other words, this is not your ordinary novel.

It begins when a recently orphaned teenage girl, Arlyn, decides the next man she sees is the one she will marry. That man is an aspiring young architect named John Moody, who does marry Arlyn but remains resentful ever after. They have two children, Sam and Blanca, before Arlyn's untimely death. They live in a spectacular house made of glass, the Glass Slipper. They shouldn't throw stones, but everyone does, it seems.

Hoffman's attention then turns to Meredith, a young woman hired to mind the two children and who, like John, can see Arlyn's ghost following him everywhere. Though she cares deeply for Sam, her devotion cannot prevent his becoming hopelessly addicted to drugs and eventually running away.

The third section of the novel puts the focus on Blanca, now grown up and living unhappily in London. She returns home after her father dies and learns some surprising secrets from his will.

I usually hate it when authors turn mystical and slip the supernatural into their novels, but I always seem to like Alice Hoffman best when she does that very thing. Skylight Confessions, while by no means her best work, pleased me very much.

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