Published by Amazon Publishing on April 1st 2016
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Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she'll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees.... Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.
Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She's not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever....
Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.
Sarah Painter has been a favourite of mine since I read The Language of Spells, I like the way she writes fiction, with a hint of magic, similar to Sarah Addison Allen whom I LOVE. I’ve since read all of Sarah’s books (Sarah Painter’s, although I’ve also read all of Sarah Addison Allen) except for The Garden of Magic, which I really must buy and read soon, and I was super stoked about In The Light of What We See – and LOOK AT THAT FABULOUS COVER. It is simply gorgeous, which is a good thing, because the book inside that stunning cover, is also exquisite.
One of my favourite things ever about contemporary fiction is the dual plot line. And Sarah Painter uses it to fabulous effect in In The Light of What We See. Back in 1938, we have young Grace’s tale, which is achingly sad in one regard because it’s not as if she chooses to be a nurse, but really hopeful in another, because Grace was such a delightful character. She’s the kind of girl you want to know more about, which is good, because her story is fantastic. She feels so real, that you can vividly imagine her swishing around the halls, tending to patients, in the sluice. Grace’s story was so evocative.
As, too, was Mina’s story, in the present. Now Mina’s story made me physically ache, because the reader KNEW what had happened to Mina, so to see Mina so confused about her accident, when we knew the real story made me want to scream. Which makes Mina’s story even sadder, really, because what’s worse than not being able to remember something so life-changing? But I liked how Mina’s memory loss changed Mina as a person. The glimpse we get of the pre-accident Mina is not the nicest of people, but the accident changes her, and makes her see people, and things, in a different light and that is priceless.
How the story intersected was fabulous, and just as magical as I’ve come to expect from Sarah Painter. She is honestly one of my favourite storytellers, because you can just lose herself in her books and forget the real world for a few hours. In The Light of What We See is a book that will stay with me for a long time, with two female characters who had such good stories to tell, in vastly different ways, but both were just as important and I never wanted to be done with Mina to get back to Grace, or vice versa. This was a delightful tale, and absolutely perfect for Sarah Addison Allen fans, you will not regret reading this book.