Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review: Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman

Illumination night

Title:  Illumination Night

Author: Alice Hoffman
(Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Adult Fiction

Narrator: Suzanne Toren

Publisher:  Blackstone Audio,  June, 2014

Length: 7.8 hours

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (From

Set on Martha’s Vineyard, here is a stunning novel that brings that beautiful island to vivid life – a novel that weaves together the lives of a little boy who can’t grow, an elderly woman who needs to save someone before she passes on, a blond giant, a young couple, a teenaged girl looking for trouble. Lives of intense erotic longing, of quiet understanding, of willful determination. It is a novel of magic and mystery, and a literary event that confirms Alice Hoffman as one of our finest and most compelling writers.

Related Media: – Grand Illumination Night on Martha’s Vineyard

An Island tradition since 1869, Grand Illumination takes place on the third Wednesday of August. It starts with a band concert by the Vineyard Haven Band followed by a community sing, the lighting of the first lantern, and the lighting of all of the other lanterns.

About the Author:


Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing.  She currently lives in Boston.

Hoffman’s first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff’s magazine, American Review.

About the Narrator:



2009 Best Voice in NONFICTION & CULTURE: Suzanne Toren brings a distinguishing warmth and power to her narrations. Her talents extend to both fiction and nonfiction, and in her recording career of 30-plus years she has given listeners heart-wrenching memoirs, lively history, engaging light fiction, and involving mysteries. Her skill with European and Middle Eastern languages and a degree in French literature also help her provide an essential believability to the characters she portrays.


My Review: Illumination Night is set on Martha’s Vineyard in present time.  Alice Hoffman description of the island and the interesting collection of characters are wonderful.  I have only read a few books by Alice Hoffman, but I am always impressed with her writing, beautiful and flowing.

Vonny and Andre are the parents of little Simon.  Vonny progresses through agoraphobia, she is trapped by a fear and inner turmoil in her house.  Ultimately her agoraphobia actually brings her closer to her husband.  I love how the relationship between Vonny and her neighbor Elizabeth Renny ultimately helps both women to heal.  Simon experiences tragedy and your heart breaks for this little boy. He is unsure of himself and concerned by his short stature.  I did find the beginning a little slow, but soon I couldn’t wait to put my headphones on to hear about Vonny and the others.

When the author introduced the character Eddie, a gentle giant,  I was thinking, “Yeah, Right”.   But as unlikely of a character, Eddie grows to be one of my favorite character.  He is flawed and a product of his past, but ultimately is a tender hearted young man, who found and lost love. 

Narration by Suzanne Toren is wonderful and captures the emotions of the characters.  I think the narration had a lot to do with my being draw to Vonny.  She sounded like a friend I wanted to keep in touch with.  Characters were distinct, though one of the male voices bothered me at first, but grew on me as the story progressed.   Which fit perfectly with the storyline.

My Rating: 4 – Illumination Night is a story that will stay with you due to the wonderful characters.  I still wonder what will happen to them next.  Alice Hoffman is a talented story teller with great character development.  She has a way with words that really captures you and she has an ability to create sympathetic characters. The story does seem to have a number of story lines going on at the same time, but I did not find that confusing.  The story of Eddie left me wanting for more.    Themes in Illumination Light include, family dysfunction, fidelity, fear and Agoraphobia, and desperation.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Audio book Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman was received from Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review.

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