“How the hell did this happen?”
From the opening line of Gail Newman’s second novel, I hoped that I was in for a well-woven dramatic tale with deeply-etched gay female lead characters. I was not disappointed.
Sunlight in the Shadows continues the Chesapeake author’s exploration of (and I assume personal experiences with) the complexities of women’s relationships. Set this time against the idyllic backdrop of New York’s Shelter Island, the book launches right into it with self-exiled Manhattan attorney Kate Whitfield fleeing the wreckage of her personal and professional lives for the sanctuary of her family’s summer home.
Newman quickly sets the stage for Kate’s inevitable re-genesis, but not without a great deal of chaos, emotional turbulence, and a menagerie of colorful characters who inhabit the island. She introduces them with crisp, authentic dialogue filled with humor and insight. And it isn’t long before they become well-drawn voices.
Newman’s also an expert at conveying the dreamlike quality of Shelter Island – expectedly so since she is from Long Island and has a second home there. From sunsets over Long Island sound to beers at the local tavern, readers are left with a real understanding of the island and it’s vital role in the story.
Most impressively is the intricacy of the plot. She weaves a human story rife with the universal drama and joy shared by not only by the main gay characters, but by humanity. As Kate’s Phoenix-from-the-Ashes story unfolds, we see that while on the the surface this is a lesbian love story, at it’s heart it’s a mystical look at how love works its magic even when the people we love are no longer with us.
This is a quick and absorbing read that combines everything you need for the day at the beach: complex relationships, a remote island, expensive cars and boats, loving grandmothers and parents, and of, course a solid happy ending.
You can purchase Sunlight in the Shadows on Lulu.com.