Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Gathering Light: A Review

When mattie Gokey is given a bundle of letters to burn she fully intends to execute the wishes of the giver, Grace Brown. When Grace Brown is found drowned the next day in Big Moose Lake, Mattie finds that it is not as easy to burn those letters as she had thought. And, as she reads, a riveting story emerges - not only Grace Brown's story but also Mattie's hopes and ambitions for the future and her relationships with her friends and family.

Recently, the last few books I have read have left me feeling a bit uninspired and generally a bit let down.  Thankfully, my literary losing streak came to an end with this book and my faith in books has been one hundred percent restored.

This is one of those books that will stay with me forever, will take pride of place on my bookshelf and will be fondly remembered, ah, just perfect.

 Set in 1906 New York State, the book chapters alternate between July and April and tells the tale of Mathilda (Mattie) Gokey, a local girl working in a hotel who is given the letters of a young pretty girl who is later found drowned in the lake.  The story tells both tales in unison, Mattie’s struggle to achieve her dream of being a writer despite her circumstances and the Young Girl, Grace Brown, through a series of letters.  Both girls, although caught in very different circumstances have the same tale to tell, one of being trapped in a situation which neither can seem to escape.

I don’t want to spell out the plot here, nor the ending of course, but I will say that this book is written absolutely beautifully, both tales are neatly interwoven with each other and it really does draw you into the story and grow fond of all of the characters.

I grew to really love Mattie and really felt for her and her circumstances, wanting to make something of her life and talent but feeling torn and duty bound by the loyalty to her family.  As I neared the end of the book I had grown so attached to the character I was longing for her to break free, run away and achieve her dream.   
Grace Brown we are not told very much of but what little is given to us in the letters; we can’t help but really empathise with her predicament and feel angry at her lover for leaving her and ignoring her in this way.  Unlike Mattie she is nowhere near as strong, her situation and future happiness seem to have been pinned upon the very man who has left her in this terrible situation.

Of course, these are only two of the characters in the book, but all others play an important role and are given just as much love and attention by the author, and you grow equally as fond of these individuals too.
I would highly recommend this book, and suggest you go out and buy yourself a copy now!

I give this book a great big:

You can buy the book from Amazon here and take a look at the author’s website here.

Bye for now,


  1. Thanks for posting a book review- I don't read enough lately and its nice to see that someone out there is!!!!! Inspiration for this week to pick up a book and read! x

  2. Oooo, will have to add this to my list. I have been looking for some good books lately as I too have had a bad run with my current reads; they promised so much.. but alas.

    Thanks for the review.

  3. Helen, I am ALWAYS on the look out for a good book recommendation, best way to discover new literature you may not have picked up otherwise. I love your blog, its gorgeous!! And if I may sound a little like a stalker (I prefer the term 'observant'), I am hearing you girl, when it comes to knowing what you want to do (regarding work). I just gave up my job to figure out a tangled web that comes with having a boyfriend that lives in Holland… So new beginnings in the Netherlands, whilst being exciting also means I have no idea what to do next… So I totally get how you feel!!

  4. ALSO (sorry!!) totally unrelated to this lovely post,,, after browsing your wonderful blog I already spotted so many things I love dearly, including City and Colour and She and Him : D

    Faded Windmills

  5. Awesome review! I have written it down to buy. I'm excited!

  6. Brilliant review - this is definitely going on my Christmas List! x