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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Leslie
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 10-10-12

Great Insomnia Listening

This is sort-of a compliment. I suffer from bouts of insomnia, and have found that putting on an audiobook to occupy my brain is a great way to get back to sleep at 4 in the morning. It's also a great way to listen to a book without any of the distractions of the outside world, and really listen to the writing.

This only becomes problematic when a story becomes engaging (for instance, I initially started listening to Little Dorrit to put myself back to sleep, but at some point became so interested in the story that I would wake up and rewind back to hear what I'd slept through.)

So far, I have found In Sunlight and in Shadow is a perfect book to fall back to sleep to. The writing is dreamlike, lyrical and descriptive, the plot pacing so slow and the narration so generally monotone (there's nothing worse then when a male narrator badly imitates a woman's voice -- the pitch change can shock you back awake) that this is perfect insomnia listening. I fell asleep to it one night, and dreamt I was in New York.

My only issue with it is that by day, my waking brain cannot stay with it. I listened to a description of Catherine taking a breath in a music hall about 3 times and spaced out every time before I figured out what she was actually doing there. I honestly thought she was an oboe player. I had to read a review to learn that she was a singer.

To do this book justice, I think I'll go back to listening to it only at 4 am, and find something a little more engaging to listen to by day.

PS - A great thing about the Audible app on the iphone, is that you can program it to go off - and it sort of fades out very subtly. This is especially recommended when you are nearing the end of a book. The last thing you need at 4:45 am is to be jolted back awake with: "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program!"

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jayne
  • SONOMA, CA, United States
  • 11-01-12

It's Not the Story, It's the Narrator

I am still struggling through this recording, but have decided to switch to the written book. I've come to the conclusion that the narrator must have substantially missed the tone the author was going for.

Helprin is the author of one of my favorite books of all time - Freddy and Fredericka - which I have listened to at least three times. The narrator of that one, Robert Ian Mackenzie, gets it exactly right. No doubt In Sunlight and In Shadow is a different kind of book, but I can't help but feel there are moments of irony that are completely miscast in Runnette's sing-song melancholy tone.

I'm going to have a try at the printed work because I think Helprin is trying to do something that needs doing. I
think he is trying to cast a line from World War II to the present and show the seeds that have brought us where we are today - the difference between paper wealth and real productivity, and between image and identity. He's up to the challenge. I'm reserving judgment on whether he's accomplished it or not.

This is one of the few occasions that I've felt a narrator truly compromised my experience of a book. Too bad. Runnette has a nice voice, but he takes elegiac to a new high (or low) here.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

too wordy

This author just goes on and on with his descriptions. I found my mind wandering off because of all of the unnecessary imagery.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Too long and romaticized

Any additional comments?

Years ago I read Helprin’s A Soldier in the Great War and found it to be an impressive description of the stupidity of war. In Sunlight and in Shadow he jumps back to WWII from a somber post WWII present. The portions of the book that cover the war are first rate. Unfortunately his descriptions of Harry’s romance with a young singer in NYC is too sophomoric and so overwhelmingly romanticized they are difficult to listen to. The words cloy. Perhaps this is due to the bated breath or the reader; as if this love affair between a thirty something vet and Katherine (no virgin) were something on the pedestal of adolescence. There is a bit of F. Scott Fitzgerald to the scenes in the Hamptons among the well-heeled set. This is juxtaposed to the gritty business of protection rackets in NYC. The book is also interminably long due to rambling descriptions and a fondness for employing an excess of adjectives. If you can get past the saccharine romance and the ponderous verbiage there is a good story with a bit of depressing and maybe inevitable ending.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth the effort

If you could sum up In Sunlight and in Shadow in three words, what would they be?

Lyrical, gorgeous and romantic.

What other book might you compare In Sunlight and in Shadow to and why?

The Piano, Frank Conroy: New York City; the 1940s; Glorious romantic style. Overcoming great obstacles against hard reality; growing into adulthood through travail and an unwillingness to give up.

What does Sean Runnette bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Enunciation, an ability to manage voices well and convincingly. Easy to listen to for nearly 30 hours.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me patiently watch and engage, unusual for me.

Any additional comments?

Give this book a chance, but be prepared to sip. This is poetry as well as fiction, and it requires time and attention. I found it well worth it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chiwiz
  • Langdon, NH, United States
  • 10-19-14

Sometimes brilliant writing, bogs down often

I do not remember being so torn by an experience with an audio book. When mr. Helprin focuses on plot I have not read a better writer. WOW is he could at telling a story. And then..... He gets bogged down in philosophizing, describing, ruminating, detailing, zooming in on some aspect of society and spending pages discussing it from all angles. Ok, a certain amount of this is very interesting, he has great things to say and it is fun listening to his perceptive view UP TO A POINT!

Where was his editor for this book?

I love everything about this book as a story. This the Perfect novel to turn into a movie because you could leave everything out except the actual story and you would have a blockbuster movie that you could bring in for around two-plus hours.

That being said, I did not like the way it ended. Too abrupt. Wanted to know a little more about the lives of those 'left behind.' See? I love his storytelling and as far as I am concerned the book could,go on and on with the story and I would be a happy listener.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A lyrical masterpiece

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

tons of long, detailed descriptions.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

storyline

What was one of the most memorable moments of In Sunlight and in Shadow?

i now am interested in war stories

Would you be willing to try another one of Sean Runnette’s performances?

he drove me crazy with to much long detailed descriptions. i would often forget what it was he was talking about. my mind wandering off and wishing to just hear story

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

sad

Any additional comments?

will avoid this author

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Couldn't make it through this

What did you like best about In Sunlight and in Shadow? What did you like least?

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.

Would you ever listen to anything by Mark Helprin again?

Not likely.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The Narrator was great, but the material was so fawning that it just sounded ridiculous.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not good for listening

What would have made In Sunlight and in Shadow better?

Read the written word

What was most disappointing about Mark Helprin’s story?

Narration combined with incredibly detailed description of every breath and every button. Too much. I had to stop.

Would you be willing to try another one of Sean Runnette’s performances?

Probably not

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Boredom

2 of 2 people found this review helpful