Tuesday 21 November 2017

A devastating debut about how the 'One Great Love' can endure

Romance: The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo, HarperCollins, €18.30

The Light We Lost
The Light We Lost

Justine Carbery

'You old romantic, you!" Not something people are in the habit of saying to me but when the Teenager comes into the living room to find me curled up on the couch with this book in one hand and a bunch of soggy tissues in the other, he is mildly surprised. And hungry. Because I hadn't left the couch for days, glued as I was to The Light We Lost.

Not usually a fan of romantic fiction, this one had me hooked. The Light We Lost will appeal to anyone who has experienced the 'One Great Love'. Or would like to. A debut for Jill Santopolo, the book has been sold to 21 countries pre-publication and I can see them lining up for the film rights too.

A heart-wrenching love story that spans decades, it starts on September 11, 2001 - a day etched in everybody's memory. For all the wrong reasons. But it is on this fateful day that Lucy and Gabe meet and fall in love and nothing is ever the same again. We are drawn into their whirlwind romance and watch as young love unfolds while life gets in the way. Both are seeking meaning, both want to make a difference, he as a photo-journalist in war-torn corners of the globe, she as a ground-breaking children's TV producer.

We watch enthralled as their lives connect and reconnect. We care. We root for them. We will them to make the right choices. And this is all down to the author's beautiful writing and clever pacing, which makes it impossible for the reader to put the damned book down!

Written as a kind of one-sided conversation/diary, the narrative flows easily across the years, as Lucy and Gabe navigate their lives, trying to stay true to themselves, with decisions made, roads not taken, opportunities created and lost. This devastating book made me think about relationships past and present, reminded me of a younger self and set my heart racing.

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