Reviews for In Sunlight and in Shadow
Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
*Starred Review* In this prodigious, enfolding saga of exalted romance in corrupt, postwar New York, resplendent storyteller Helprin (Freddy and Fredericka, 2005) creates a supremely gifted and principled hero. Harry is a Jewish special-ops WWII paratrooper (we learn all the throttling details in sustained flashbacks) who has just returned home from the front to find his family's top-of-the-line leather goods company failing in the wake of his father's death. Harry is determined to rescue it and to learn the identity of the beautiful woman he spies on the Staten Island Ferry. Catherine turns out to be a level-headed, musical, blue-blooded heiress. As their against-tough-odds love grows in sync with Harry's unexpectedly perilous business woes, Harry is caught between his rigorous ethics and pride and the tempting wealth and ease that marriage to Catherine could bring. 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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
Elegant, elegiac novel of life in postwar America, at once realistic and aspirational, by the ever-accomplished Helprin (A Soldier of the Great War, 1991, etc.). Harry Copeland is a sturdy-looking man, so much so that a wise aunt likens him to a young Clark Gable, to which he replies, "For Chrissakes, Elaine, when he was young, without the mustache, Clark Gable looked like a mouse." There's nothing mousy about Harry, though he does share Gable's burden of tragedy. But that is far from his mind when he lays eyes on Catherine Thomas Hale on a New York ferry and is stopped in his tracks. He pursues her, and in time he wins her over, only to find that Catherine harbors many secrets--and that her family harbors more than a few hidden prejudices and is not at all happy when Harry comes a-courting in the place of Catherine's longtime beau. The lovers' story is appropriately tangled and star-crossed, for if Catherine has a wagonload of baggage, Harry, a former paratrooper, hasn't quite forgotten the horrors of the war in Europe. The story crosses continents and is suffused with the California dream, but Helprin is really most at home in New York, which he describes with the affection and beauty that Woody Allen invested in his film Manhattan. There are other celebrations--of love, of books and learning--and other regrets, as when Harry finds himself "plundered by alcohol" and on the verge of doing things he will rue. Helprin charges the story with beautiful passages: "More like gentle lamps than stars, their blinking was not cold and quick like the disinterested stars of winter, but slow and seductive, as if they were speaking in a code that all mankind understood perfectly well even if it did not know that such a language existed." A fine adult love story--not in the prurient sense, but in the sense of lovers elevated from smittenness to all the grown-up problems that a relationship can bring. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 May #2
Home from the war and basking in the bright lights of 1947 New York, wealthy Harry Copeland encounters heiress and aspiring actress Catherine Thomas Hale on the Staten Island ferry, and a great passion is born. Alas, Catherine is engaged to a much older man, but she and Harry pursue a romance against the backdrop of Broadway theaters and Long Island mansions. What I've read so far is glorious and golden; the 100,000-copy first printing seems right. [Page 56]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 August #1
Acclaimed novelist Helprin (A Soldier of the Great War) has written a tale of two individuals who meet by chance on New York City's Staten Island Ferry and fall in love forever. When Harry meets Sally, uh, Catherine, he pursues her until she rather quickly falls in love with him. She's a fabulously wealthy budding actress whose career seems thwarted owing to suspiciously bad reviews, while Harry, who has recently returned from active duty in Europe after World War II, is struggling to make a go of it with the leather goods business he inherited from his deceased dad even as he faces a shakedown by the mob. Both main characters are attractive, and plot and setting are well drawn. But the tale is about twice as long as it needs to be. At times the romance here seems to be the author's love of his own writing, with infelicitous consequences: "[T]he buses running along the avenues [were] like unhappy buffalo inexplicably tamed to their routes." VERDICT For readers who enjoy a rich, dense stew and won't notice that it is at times too thick to stir. [See Prepub Alert, 4/23/12.]--Edward Cone, New York [Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #1
Three decades after his seminal Winter's Tale, Helprin offers another sprawling novel in which New York City is the participatory backdrop of a love story that begins as an American idyll only to be vexed by a legion of postwar anxieties. One day in 1946, Harry Copeland--recently of the 82nd Airborne and heir to his father's leather goods company--spots Catherine Hale, a well-heeled songstress with a Bryn Mawr pedigree. The two fall immediately in love, despite the objections of Catherine's powerful fiancÚ, and Catherine's career is savaged in the fallout of this star-crossed affair, which, from Penn Station to the Ritz and back to Harry's heroics behind enemy lines, swells to operatic grandeur over the course of 700 pages, drawing specters like anti-Semitism and the Mafia into its orbit and concluding with a desperate, violent scheme that will bring Harry's wartime expertise to bear on his sense of justice. And yet, neither love nor New York has ever seemed less complicated: despite excellent set pieces, Helprin's prose is often ham-fisted, his characters thin, and his invocations of Gotham Americana jingoistic. Still, there's fun to be had, particularly when Gatsbyesque descriptions of "the great financial houses" run for pages, but subtlety is not the author's strong suit, and the lack of moral ambiguity in his larger-than-life characters registers as a missed opportunity. Agent: Wendy Weil. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC