Mark Helprin’s enchanting and sweeping novel asks a simple question: can love and honor conquer all?
New York in 1947 glows with postwar energy. Harry Copeland, an elite paratrooper who fought behind enemy lines in Europe, returns home to run the family business. In a single, magical encounter on the Staten Island ferry, the young singer and heiress Catherine Thomas Hale falls for him instantly but too late to prevent her engagement to a much older man. Harry and Catherine pursue one another in a romance played out in postwar America’s Broadway theaters, Long Island mansions, the offices of financiers, and the haunts of gangsters. Catherine’s choice of Harry over her longtime fiancé endangers Harry’s livelihood - and eventually threatens his life.
Entrancing in its lyricism, In Sunlight and in Shadow so powerfully draws you into New York at the dawn of the modern age that, as in a vivid dream, you will not want to leave.
About the author: Mark Helprin was educated at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Oxford. He served in the Israeli military and the British Merchant Navy. He is the acclaimed author of Winter’s Tale and numerous other works.
©2012 Mark Helprin (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“In this prodigious, enfolding saga of exalted romance in corrupt, postwar New York, resplendent storyteller Helprin creates a supremely gifted and principled hero…Helprin’s suspenseful, many-stranded plot is unfailingly enthralling. The sumptuous settings are intoxicating. The novel’s seething indictment of mobster rule in the 1940s is bracing, and the lovers’ high-stakes predicaments are heartbreaking. Helprin’s personal articles of faith shape every scene as he expresses deep respect for soldiers, sensitivity to anti-Semitism and racism, and stalwart belief in valor and individual exceptionalism. So declarative is this philosophical tale that it can be read as Helprin’s spiritual and lyrical answer to the big, bossy, and enduring novels of Ayn Rand.” (Booklist, starred review)
“Elegant, elegiac…A fine adult love story - not in the prurient sense, but in the sense of lovers elevated from smittenness to all the grownup problems that a relationship can bring.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Glorious and golden, truly like reentering another world where another sensibility prevails and even the sunlight and shadow have a different weight.” (Library Journal)
I LOVED this book, though the ending broke my heart. I couldn't, couldn't believe that Helprin would persevere, would end it as he did. And yet, all the way through this stunning, brilliant book, he never compromised, always told the truth. The language is simply ravishing, direct and yet so illuminating, so unanticipated. Often very funny, even. I loved his description of society dames:
"Evelyn, were she in the slightest bit malevolent, could concentrate upon him the female death ray that only a mother-in-law or potential mother-in-law can deploy, that comes from frustration of a hundred types, that is as old as the monkeys, and for which there is no antidote.
"Park Avenue and its environs". . . "were full of caked and powdered reptilian women and florid panting men who lived to shop and eat, with muscles evolved mainly for approaching a maitre d', lifting a poodle, or carrying glistening packages. At home these people did not breathe. There was no air, no room to move, no space to stretch out an arm without shattering Lalique, no sunshine, no water, no waves, only a coffin-like bella figura of life as still as a wax dummy."
A tour de force, a simply wonderful wonderful book. I can't praise it enough.
And Sean Runnette's gentle voice was perfect for this book. Peaceful and lovely to listen to--a very fine matching of voice and book.
Couldn't stop listening
First time--super good job
No laughs--some tears
Halprin may be the best American Novelist writing today.
No. Perhaps the narrator was handicapped by the material, which was tedious and overwritten, but the combination of Helprin's diarrhea of words and Runnette's whispery earnestness was deadly.
Cut out half the words and rethink the ones he kept. Can't say about the story line because after two hours of listening I'd just gotten to the boy meets girl part.
Yes, my real problem with this book was the author.
I bought this book on the recommendation of someone without noticing that it was by the same author as Fred and Frederika, another book I was unable to finish. Helprin is overly enamored by his own writing - much of which is nonsensical. When the words he has assembled do make sense, too often they are hammering the reader over the head with political or social philosophies inappropriate to the era in which the story takes place. After listening to two hours I realized In Sunlight and in Shadow is layered with pretty words and endless descriptions that give an appearance of something important, but underneath the book its pretentious drivel. And that's when I decided to turn it off.
It is pleasure to walk the lives of men and women as seen with the author's passion and love for life itself. Beautiful, mesmerizing, fulfilling, and adventuresome, the book, as Helprin's others, is a masterpiece.
I got this because I loved The movie, "A Winter's Tale" by the same author. I was disappointed to find the writing for that different movie was much better for me than the written book and audio book.
The writing is smooth, lilting and poetic. The book made me feel like I was living with the characters just after WWII.
It is highly romantic. The author and narrator took me to a time and place I wish existed, if ever people were really that romantic, perfect and selfless.
Enjoyable. .. but I was glad when it was over. This is not a page turner. There are very long descriptions ... perhaps too wordy .
I enjoyed it as an audio book but doubt I'd have continued to the end if I had to read the words. .. and I love to read.
Some of the writing was lyrical and well thought out, in individual small passages.These were limited to brief descriptions, or asides.I couldn't take the incredible overstating of how much everyone was in love, how perfect Catherine seemed, etc. etc. Catherine sounded like a nut job. Too many things in her behavior didn't add up. I just couldn't go along with any narrator or character who didn't see that. Everyone's behavior was destined to lead them to trouble, and it did. Big surprise. I couldn't take it any more, and read a summary of the end on the web, and saved myself 10 hours of listening to how these idiots managed to screw up their perfect lives.
The Narrator was great, but the material was so fawning that it just sounded ridiculous.
This is probably the worst book I've read on audible. It had been highly recommended by someone, so I ventured into this daunting, 4 part epic, over 30 hrs, that I had been led to understand was WW II genre, which it was not really. The book was disappointing on so many levels, the most egregious was the verbosity. The plot took many chapters to enter and the entire story could have been told in under 8 hours, not 30. The excess of description was downright annoying, with long, drawn-out pining over the hero's love, the mother of pearl buttons on her shimmering blouse, ad nauseum. I'm as romantic a woman as most, but this guy's superfluity of emotion was like wading thorough maple syrup. I kept fast forwarding, hoping to find something substantial as to the plot line. It was gooey wading.
If the author had taken out 90% of the adjectives, and if a different narrator had read it there is a possibility it would have been tolerable. I don't know about a 4 or 5-star experience.
The sappy love story. Really!
He just droned on and on.
It could have been an interesting story. I really wanted to finish the book. I tried. I really tried. I finally had to give it up. I just couldn't do it any longer. The overblown writing was bad enough but the narration was exhausting.
A different narrator and an editor with sharp scissors.
Almost any narrator would have been an improvement. Runnette's sentences had one cadence, no inflection and he sounded like the guy on "Prairie Home Companion" who extolls the virtues of catsup. I really wanted to listen to this book because I wanted to finish it and I had a long car trip when I could listen. But I just couldn't stand to listen to this narrator.
This was a great idea for a story - a good plot line (I guess it is plausible that a humanities major would take on a mobster), and fairly well developed characters, but Helprin's digressions were so numerous and often so overblown that they just barely allowed you to suffer through them to get to the story.
It was like going for a walk with a poet in a beautiful garden. Sometimes he stops, examines a flower and writes a poem. Other times, he stops, examines a flower and smokes a joint.
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