Reviews for And the Dark Sacred Night


Booklist Reviews 2014 February #1
*Starred Review* Stuck in a nightmare of unpaid bills, dwindling bank accounts, and leaky roofs, unemployed art-history professor Kit Noonan needs a jolt. Convinced that deep-seated identity issues are fueling Kit's inertia-inducing depression, his wife urges him to find the identity of his biological father, a fact his otherwise loving mother refuses to divulge. To solve the mystery, Kit embarks on a journey that takes him across the northeastern U.S., starting with a visit to his gruff and outdoorsy stepfather's home, and ending with a revelation that transforms his life in ways he could never imagine. Woven throughout the narrative are flashbacks to key events in Kit's history, including the tender and beautifully told story of the relationship between Kit's mother and father. Divided into sections written from the perspective of key characters, Glass explores the pain of family secrets, the importance of identity, and the ultimate meaning of family. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Although Glass borrows characters from her National Book Award-winning Three Junes, it is not necessary to have read that previous book to enjoy this lovely, highly readable, and thought-provoking novel. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

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BookPage Reviews 2014 April
A spiritual journey to connect past and present

Julia Glass’ fifth novel borrows for its title a lyric from “What a Wonderful World,” the song made famous by Louis Armstrong. In Glass’ book, the reference comes up when Fenno McLeod, the Scottish expat introduced in Three Junes, is at a therapy session with his boyfriend. “The past is like the night: dark yet sacred,” the therapist says, neatly summing up the crux of this big-hearted story of family ties. “There is no day without night, no wakefulness without sleep, no present without past. They are constantly somersaulting over each other.” So it goes in And the Dark Sacred Night.

The plotline somersaults back and forth, from past to present, and there are several points of view—though they all come back to Kit Noonan, a scholar of Inuit art who is out of a job and in an emotional rut. Kit’s wife believes that he must solve the mystery of his paternity in order to move forward; Kit’s mother got pregnant as a teenager, and she’s always refused to reveal the identity of her young lover. (It doesn’t take long for readers to learn that Kit’s father is Malachy Burns, the witty and enigmatic music critic who died from AIDS in Three Junes.) To solve the mystery, Kit travels to the house of his ex-stepfather—a woodsy, tender Vermont ski instructor—and eventually on to Provincetown for a charged weekend with people who knew Malachy.

Knowledge of Three Junes isn’t a prerequisite to enjoying this companion novel, though readers who liked the National Book Award winner will be satisfied to find out what’s happened to Fenno in the years since Malachy’s death. (Sadly, Fenno’s charming West Village bookshop has gone the way of Border’s. His parrot Felicity is still very much in the picture.) Glass is skilled at capturing how people relate to one another, and her descriptions of grief are especially piercing, as when a mother reflects on the[Thu Jul 24 19:05:27 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. passage of time since her child’s death. The distance from the tragedy has only moved her pain “to a more distant room; when she enters that room, though she does less so often, the pain still blinds her with its keen, diamondlike brilliance.”

My one quibble with And the Dark Sacred Night is the blandness of Kit compared to the rich and varied supporting cast; I was more invested in the interior lives of the other characters than in Kit’s midlife crisis, which launches the book. Be patient and keep reading. It’s worth it to watch how the story unfolds. Like life, the plot can be wretched and wonderful—indeed, dark yet sacred.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2014 February #2
An unemployed former art history professor searches for his birth father's identity in the newest from Glass (The Widower's Tale, 2010, etc.). In his mid-40s, Kit Noonan, father of twins, has become an ineffectual househusband with no job prospects, a shrinking bank account and a marriage in deep trouble. But for reasons that never quite become clear, the unsolved question of his paternity takes priority, and prodded by wife, Sandra, a barely sketched character who shares no apparent chemistry with him, Kit sets out on a journey of discovery. Kit's mother, Daphne, bore him at 18 and, now in her 60s, still refuses to divulge his father's identity (although readers know early on that adolescent Daphne's lover was Malachy Burns, the AIDS-infected music critic from Glass' 2002 National Book Award–winning novel, The Three Junes). Soon, Kit has gone to visit his former stepfather, Daphne's first husband, Jasper. Jasper is a lovable creation, tough but gentle, worried that he was not much of a father to his own sons, let alone Kit. Daphne broke Jasper's heart when she left him, but since he promised her he would keep her secrets, he is at first reluctant to share what he knows with Kit. Eventually he does share, and Kit is soon in touch with Lucinda Burns, wife of an aging New Hampshire senator and still-grieving mother of Malachy. A devout Catholic mother of two gay sons, Lucinda went against Malachy's wishes in pushing Daphne to have Kit and then dedicated her life to encouraging single mothers to have their babies. Now she questions her rigid choices with the help of Malachy's last friend, Three Junes character Fenno. While all of the characters Kit encounters have idiosyncratic charm, Kit himself is an overly sensitive, navel-gazing bore. Nevertheless, a new extended family develops, though not without trials and tears. Why Daphne keeps her secret in the 21st century is hard to fathom, and it's just one of the creaking contrivances that fans of Glass' empowering tear-jerkers will have to overlook. Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 November #2

Unemployed, mortgage-trapped Kit Noonan has children to support and a restless wife who wants him to uncover his father's identity. That leads Kit to Lucinda Burns, wife of a famed senator and mother of the journalist who died of AIDs in Glass's the 2002 National Book Award winner, Three Junes. Now in his sixties, Three Junes protagonist Fenno McLeod also appears. With a nine-city tour.

[Page 63]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Journal Reviews 2014 February #1

Winner of a National Book Award for her 2002 debut, Three Junes, Glass takes another sympathetic look at the complexities of contemporary life in this novel about family secrets. Kit Noonan was born to teenager Daphne back in the 1960s after she had an impulsive interlude with another teen, Malachy (Mal) Burns, at a summer music camp. Daphne gives up her dream of having a career as a cellist to become a teacher and raise Kit as a single mother. Malachy, who is gay, later becomes an important music critic; he dies of AIDS in Three Junes. Though Daphne eventually marries twice, she never tells Kit who his father is. Now in his 40s, with a wife and twins, Kit feels stymied; his academic career is going nowhere. At his wife's urging, he tries to find his father's family, which leads to some surprising twists and turns, including the requisite big family blowup at Thanksgiving. VERDICT Examining complicated family relationships among several families whose lives intertwine in unexpected ways, this warm and engaging story about what it means to be a father will appeal to most readers. [See Prepub Alert, 10/21/13.]--Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

[Page 65]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2014 March #5

Glass's uneven new novel (after The Widower's Tale) centers around 40-year-old Kit Noonan, an unemployed college professor who--against his mother Daphne's wishes--wants to track down Malachy Burns, the father he never knew (and a character from Glass's 2002 National Book Award -winning debut Three Junes). At the urging of his wife Sandra, Kit turns to his stepfather Jasper for advice on the matter. Though Jasper is reticent to betray Daphne's confidence, he provides Kit with information that ultimately leads Kit to find his grandmother, Lucinda Burns. Glass uses the limited third person viewpoint to get in the heads of five very different characters, and she does it skillfully. Their disparate worlds are fleshed out in great detail, but though Kit is the character pushing the plot forward, he is the least intriguing of the five. Glass's portrayal of Lucinda is by far her strongest; the grief she feels is visible through the family dynamic of her and her other children. Such sections ring with emotional truth while others feel precious. Glass produces spot-on descriptions: one character spends most nights in bed " awake for half an hour or more, his mind, hawk-like, circling and re-circling his life from above." This imperfect work will still reward loyal readers. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Apr.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Glass's uneven new novel (after The Widower's Tale) centers around 40-year-old Kit Noonan, an unemployed college professor who--against his mother Daphne's wishes--wants to track down Malachy Burns, the father he never knew (and a character from Glass's 2002 National Book Award -winning debut Three Junes). At the urging of his wife Sandra, Kit turns to his stepfather Jasper for advice on the matter. Though Jasper is reticent to betray Daphne's confidence, he provides Kit with information that ultimately leads Kit to find his grandmother, Lucinda Burns. Glass uses the limited third person viewpoint to get in the heads of five very different characters, and she does it skillfully. Their disparate worlds are fleshed out in great detail, but though Kit is the character pushing the plot forward, he is the least intriguing of the five. Glass's portrayal of Lucinda is by far her strongest; the grief she feels is visible through the family dynamic of her and her other children. Such sections ring with emotional truth while others feel precious. Glass produces spot-on descriptions: one character spends most nights in bed " awake for half an hour or more, his mind, hawk-like, circling and re-circling his life from above." This imperfect work will still reward loyal readers. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Apr.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

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