Book Review // Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

Book Review // Valley of the Moon by Melanie GideonValley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon
Published by Random House Publishing Group on July 26th 2017
Rating: five-stars
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Sagas, Literary
Pages: 416
Buy: Hardback/Paperback|Kindle
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The author of the critically acclaimed Wife 22 has written a captivating novel about a love that transcends time—perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Time and Again, and the novels of Alice Hoffman.

San Francisco, 1975. A single mother, Lux Lysander is overwhelmed, underpaid, and living on the edge of an emotional precipice. When her adored five-year-old son goes away to visit his grandparents, Lux takes a solo trip to Sonoma Valley—a chance to both lose herself and find herself again.

Awakened at midnight, Lux steps outside to see a fog settled over the Sonoma landscape. Wandering toward a point of light in the distance, she emerges into a meadow on a sunny day. There she meets a group of people whose sweetly simple clothing, speech, and manners almost make them seem as if they are from another time.

And then she realizes they are.

Lux has stumbled upon an idyllic community cut off not only from the rest of the world but from time itself. The residents of Greengage tell a stunned and disoriented Lux that they’ve somehow been marooned in the early twentieth century. Now that she has inexplicably stepped into the past, it is not long before Lux is drawn in by its peace and beauty.

Unlike the people of Greengage, Lux discovers that she is able to come and go. And over the years, Lux finds herself increasingly torn between her two lives. Her beloved son is very much a child of the modern world, but she feels continually pulled back to the only place she has ever truly felt at home.

A gorgeous, original, and deeply moving novel about love and longing and the power that time holds over all of us, Valley of the Moon is unforgettable.

One of the things that intrigues me most about the book world is that sometimes a book will come out without a lot of fanfare. Which is a bit bizarre considering the prices publishers pay to publish a book, so you’d think they’d try to get the book in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Valley of the Moon is one such a book – I read Wife 22 years ago, and I loved it, and I only knew of Valley of the Moon because I was searching new books on my local library’s website. Otherwise, I would have had no idea which would have been devastating, because Valley of the Moon was a brilliant read.

Valley of the Moon seems as if it’s similar to The Time Traveler’s Wife. I can’t say for sure as I haven’t read TTTW (I KNOW) but both feature time travel so we’ll go with that. In 1906 you have the community of Greengage – trapped after an Earthquake made a fog descend that kills anyone who tries to go through it (RIP piglets, I was NOT okay with that). And then in 1975 we have Lux, a single mother, doing her best to make ends meet in San Francisco in the 70s. She goes camping one night while her son, Benno, visits his grandparents and wakes up in the middle of the night to see the fog, walks through it and ends up in Greengage, barely able to believe what she’s seeing.

Valley of the Moon had such an intriguing concept and I loved the simplicity of the life in Greengage – planting anything you could need to eat, raising chickens, just living off the land y’know? No phones, no Internet, no worries. It just made me feel so blissful. Throw in a ton of books and that would suit me down to the ground. Not having to work, or, rather, being able to work wherever you like – picking fruit, or harvesting potatoes or mucking out stalls, etc. *Deep content sigh* And to see the differences from 1906 to 1975 was eye-opening. When Lux reels off a list of things that Joseph and everyone at Greengage has missed, it’s insane (and I am still not over Laika the dog – what the hell, Russia?!). It’s so eye-opening to think what can change in just a handful of years.

There is just so much to unpack from this book – Lux’s life in 1975 isn’t great, and I can see why she was so sucked into the life at Greengage, why the people there fascinated her. I loved Joseph’s steady calmness, the way they’d chat each evening, as if they weren’t from different decades. I loved the back and forth between the two years and the heartbreak the ensued everytime the fog wasn’t there. I liked Lux’s relationship with her son, Benno. It was so pure, so full of love. I assumed this was just about a woman running away to a cult, but I was so, so wrong. This book was so much more than that. And Greengage was not a cult, and if it was, I would join it in a heartbeat.

It made me weep, it made me happy, it made me just feel the whole entire spectrum of emotions. It’s the kind of book you think about when you’re not reading it, that you don’t forget. It’s a classic. I loved every page of Valley of the Moon, it was the kind of book I never wanted to end. I wanted to read about Lux, Joseph, Benno for the rest of my days. I really, really loved Valley of the Moon. It’s completely different to Wife 22, and shows just how good a writer Melanie Gideon is. She just nailed everything about this book and it was just an incredible, unforgettable read.


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