Claire Limyè Lanmè - Claire of the Sea Light - is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life. But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself.
Told with piercing lyricism and the economy of a fable, Claire of the Sea Light is a tightly woven, breathtaking tapestry that explores what it means to be a parent, child, neighbor, lover, and friend, while revealing the mysterious bonds we share with the natural world and with one another. Embracing the magic and heartbreak of ordinary life, it is Edwidge Danticat’s most spellbinding, astonishing book yet.
©2013 Edwidge Danticat (P)2013 Recorded Books
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
A young Haitian girl is born on the same day her mother passes and raised by a father who wasn't sure he wanted to be a parent from the start. While he loves her, he grapples with the decision to let the village fabric shop owner keep her as she has lost her own daughter and can provide more opportunities than the poor fisherman.
Beautiful, brief, and honest novel explores the question of what it means to be a parent from mother's, father's, and a friend's (who ran away from fatherhood only to be smacked into reality later) point of view. The beginning was well written, but the middle diverged course with an inconsequential character loosely threaded to the story. The last 1/4 of the book returned to original form with a satisfying ending.
I had a hard time getting into this book at first. It's very detailed and descriptive and I found it hard to connect to the characters in the first section. Then as it moved on to the second set of characters, it felt more like a set of short stories before I figured out that each story was interconnected with another story somehow. Then I wanted to know how everyone was connected, and wanted to solve the mysteries that were slowing being told.
I loved all the French/Creole in the book. I love the language and can understand French well, so it was nice to have it weaved into the story. (**Note: The narration by Robin Miles certainly helps to comb through the way these words are spelled or pronounced. My friends who read the kindle or paperback book, especially those without a knowledge in French, had a tough time sounding out the oddly spelled words.)
And while I may not know much about Haiti or the people there, I enjoyed how the author included a wide variety of characters and stories.
And I wasn't the only one. This was a pick in my book club. The stories were interesting and kept me listening but, in the end, I thought there would be a moral or big picture or larger meaning and there wasn't. It was good for some discussion and it was interesting how each of us perceived parts of the stories differently. None of us hated it just no one would recommend that anyone run out and read it.
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