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In Sunlight and in Shadow
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In Sunlight and in Shadow

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  2,067 ratings  ·  569 reviews
Entrancing in its lyricism, In Sunlight and in Shadow so powerfully draws you into New York at the dawn of the modern age that, as in a vivid dream, you will not want to leave. In 1946, Harry Copeland has returned after fighting in the 82nd Airborne from North Africa all the way to the Elbe. Reluctantly assuming the direction of the family fine leather goods manufacture, h ...more
Hardcover, 720 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
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It is no secret to my friends that Mark Helprin is among my favorite authors. I realize my admiration for his work makes me suspect, less than objective. Neverthless I must share my initial reflections regarding his new novel. How can I put this? When I finished In Sunlight and in Shadow I was overwhelmed with the sheer power of the novel. I had the story in my head for several days, I actually couldn't get it out of my head. I have not been moved by any novel in such a manner for many, many yea ...more
Imagine, if you will, a blue whale. But not just any blue whale. This whale lived longer than any blue whale has ever lived. This great beast was swimming the oceans when Teddy Roosevelt was president. It lived through wars and depressions and the explosive growth of technology, and somehow managed to evade whalers and orcas to become the largest animal ever to have been on this great blue ball we call home.

And it died. Not of some tragedy or violence, but of old age; it was time.

And this whal
I see from the other reviews that people either love or hate this book. I bought the stupid thing based on one rave review, and I hated it. Let me explain why by pretending that I'm the author and I want to get across the simple idea, "She hated it."

Deep from within her soul, somewhere where the light never touched, just as the light never touched the dark roiling depths of the ocean near Normandy, where so many men were lost, lost forever in the dirt and sand, sand like the irritation beneath
I spent five weeks with In Sunlight and In Shadow. Five monogamous weeks, which is quite a committed literary relationship for this fast-in, fast-out reader. Yes, life circumstances wore me out and distracted me, so that some days the amount of pages read would be imperceptible as measured on a standard ruler, but never once did I contemplate setting Helprin aside for a less complicated time or supplementing my evening reading with a less demanding literary companion.

I was enthralled by this lu
Retribution: A Love Story

There are many wonderful things about “In Sunlight and in Shadow”. Helprin’s writing reminds me of novelists from an earlier age where things were more leisurely and people had time and patience to read longer books. The Victorian Age? Helprin indulges in digressions which might sound potentially boring but almost every time he makes a stunning observation. This isn’t a book you’ll want to skim. Let yourself ease into its pace and you’ll be rewarded in my opinion. The de
Boris Feldman
The editor should be shot.
Oh, wait -- maybe there was no editor.
Helprin has long been one of my favorite authors. I read this book in an Advance Review Copy. All 700 pages.
I hated it. The language, which the cover describes as "lyrical," is pretentious and overblown.
I get the title. Do you have to include the words "sun," "light," or "shadow" on every page? Almost every paragraph?
The kernel of the story is engaging. This would have been a pretty good 250 page book. At 700 pages, with diversions
Lori (Hellian)
Helprin has written some of my favorite books, and nobody can write as beautifully, as lyrically as he can. I form more images in my mind from him than most others. And this is a book about falling in love, it's been a long time since I fell in love and reading this I am transported back.

BUT so far I'm annoyed by all the speechifying in what's supposed to be dialog. We'll see what happens.

11/3 - god I can't believe I'm giving a Helprin 3 stars. But 3 stars means I LIKED IT! I've been pondering
In conclusion: Unfortunately, I cannot whole-heartedly recommend this book to everyone, even though I loved parts. Some of the writing is beautiful and thought provoking, but there are verbose, sentimental, overly dramatic and sophomoric passages too. Whole chapters could/should have been completely eliminated. This book needs editing. The dialog IS often funny, but neither these clever lines nor the wonderful depiction of NYC save the book.

Every single woman mentioned is idealized. The two pri
Matthew Roche
This book made me angry.

There, I said it.

I loved Helprin, especially A Soldier of the Great War. I tolerated two-dimensional female characters and wandering plots just for the opportunity to feed on his magnificent prose. There was no modern peer for his descriptions of the Alps or gilded age New York City.

But then came Freddy and Fredericka, which I barely tolerated, and then this cumbersome lump of dross.

I cannot begin to express what an astonishingly bad book this is. Characters so wooden I w
I love Mark Helprin. "Winter's Tale" is probably my favorite book of all time - at least in the top 5 - and I love "Memoirs of an Ant Proof Case." If you haven't read Mark Helprin, please pick up one of those books. Do not pick up this one as your first experience with him, since it may be your last.

It was not a terrible book, but I was very disappointed. It was a love story, but my main problem with it was that he told us about how much these two were in love, rather than show us. There was a l
The first time I sunk into one of Mark Helprin’s huge, atmospheric novels I wondered how it was this man was not better known. But he is well known as a maker of epics, I just didn’t know it then. That first brush with Helprin was A Soldier of the Great War which so enraptured me I thought I’d never read another that was as good. Later, a professor friend of mine told me he “couldn’t get through it.” Older now, I wonder if it isn’t the fantastical quality of the romance, or the steel thread of A ...more
I'm unsure of how to write a review for In Sunlight and in Shadow since it is, for lack of a better testimony, the book I've been searching for. Without question, it is now my favorite book and I have no doubt it will continue to be no matter how many more novels I read in my lifetime. It is more beautifully written than I could have imagined and I'm in true mourning for the characters of which I can no longer spend my days with. Even though I'm positive the pages will crease and fade over time ...more
Mark Helprin is a genus with the English language. I also believe Helprin is ambitious with the subject matter he tackles. In his latest novel Helprin really tries (and comes as close as I think you can get) to put on a page what it is like to fall head over heals in love. The emotions, sights, smells, tastes, and over all energy involved with a romantic infatuation danced off the page for me. The journey that followed, of a life filled with courage, honesty, and sacrifice made me want to be a b ...more
Profoundly disappointing.
Mark Helprin wrote a novel about New York that actually changed my life: Winter's Tale is such a gorgeous fairy tale, and such a compelling portrait of New York City, that I carried its images and its story with me when I moved to New York a few years after first reading it.
I've read all of Helprin's other novels, and I do love his way with description, but none of the others stuck with me the way Winter's Tale did.
So when I picked up In Sunlight and in Shadow, I thoug
Suzanne Parker
I am close to the end of this tiring book, finally. I could not just put it on the shelf and stop reading it so I am going to finish it. I was expecting a lot more plot in stead of the over-reaching, never ending scene descriptions that just go on and on. And beside that, the love story is too much and not enough reality about how love evolves, has it's ups and downs and turns. Not very believable. I want to finish the story to see what happens to the bad guys.

Continued...Well I did finish this
This is the end for me and Mark Helprin. This book is so utterly boring that I was able to skip a 100 page flashback and not have it impact the telling of the tale in any way. The two main characters, swept up in an unlikely and unrealistic love, are so redolent of their own smugness that by the end you loathe both of them. They are physically perfect, morally perfect, sexually perfect, socially perfect, intellectually perfect, militarily goes on and on. The saccharine love story i ...more
I am a sentimental fool.

This book pulled every string, pushed every button, appealed to every emotion I have. The writing I normally enjoy is plain and straightforward and simple in the unadorned sense. What Helprin does here takes writing on a completely different level, perhaps not a higher plane, but separate. His words are musical, rising and falling, swelling with crescendos and whispering pianissimo. He paints murals with broad sweeping stroke and lush colors that make you feel if you just
I read this one because it sounded to me a bit like his Winter's Tale, the only other Helprin novel I've read and which I became completely immersed in and loved. Like Winter's Tale, this novel celebrates New York City, this time at a somewhat later period. The time is 1946 and the main character, Harry Copeland, is a well-to-do Jewish ex-soldier who's come home to run his father's leather goods business, his father having died while he was at war. (I couldn't help but note that Swede Levov, Rot ...more
Judith Hannan
In Sunlight and in Shadow is a long and bloated book. Ostensibly a story about love and honor it is also a tale of New York in post-WWII New York. Perhaps it was Helprin's intent to capture the energy of the time when the country felt ripe with possibility and New York City seemed the powerful energy behind it all. But it didn't work for me. In many ways, it reminded me of the work of Ayn Rand. All is idealized--love, women, valor, the city and "Our Hero" of course. Most unbelievable to me is t ...more
This book has such potential, but was in DESPERATE need of an editor! There are many things to love and admire about the book -- especially the way the author depicts the horrors of war, and how he portrays NYC in all of its complexity -- but there are even more things to be frustrated about: characters who are dropped in and out for no apparent reason, lyrical language run amok, ham-handed plot developments, redundancy, an off-putting objectification of women, an over-reliance on a narrow set o ...more
I loved A Winter's Tale, so I didn't hesitate to dive into In Sunlight and Shadow. Everything I loved about the former is missing from the latter. I remember Winter's Tale as a nimble, imaginative epic. This new novel is ponderous, sentimental, and almost preachy. At times I felt like I was reading male-version harlequin romance. The hero is an idealized male archetype, who, burnished by the masculine trials of physical and academic overachievement and then perfected in the crucible of war, lear ...more
Zzz. The writing in this book is overly wordy in a very pretentious way, and the characters seemed so flat. I got tired of trying to wade through it just to find any substance at all, and I gave up before I got very far.
i was hoping for more characters and less caricatures. I get the the idealistic tone of the novel. I think I agree with much of Helprin's philosophy. But I found the writing, while often lyrical, overly stylized and forced. Yes the introductory chapter is beautiful. It drew me in. But halfway through the book I got bored by the lengthy and verbose descriptions of New York and the narrator's repetitive and unchanging account of the lovers feelings for each other. I began to feel like Helprin was ...more
I had not previously read any Helprin books and I'm guessing from some of the reviews I read it may not have been the best example of his work.
First - the good - the prose was breathtaking. It was like reading a poem. Each sentence was so deliberately constructed and painted such vivid pictures, and the writer in me lapped that up.
The story was also good and, when it was being told, intriguing and suspenseful.
But the reason I went with 3 stars and not 4 or 5 as the prose alone would deserve, is
This is a good book for listening to while you are doing something else with your hands. I like listening to audio books while I'm knitting gifts for Christmas or things for my family. Or while I'm doing something that needs doing and I can "read" at the same time.

There's a lot of description in this book and for some people this is tedious. To me, it all helps to set the time frame of history and the society at the time. Not only do we get to appreciate a closer picture of the time after the wa
I haunted the publisher's booth at BEA waiting for these ARCS to appear, and my efforts were well repaid. As ever, Mark Helprin's elegantly philosophical dialogue functions rather like spellbinding arias for opera goers; the plot trajectory freezes in time as the listener or reader is invited to consider sensory flights and character-revealing erudition that offer their own rewards--then the story resumes, still leaving the onlooker a little breathless from thought. The book is a love letter to ...more
I really wanted to like this, but it was so superfluous! It could've been 300 pages shorter. I gave up 400 pgs in because I reached a 100 pg flashback and couldn't handle it anymore.
May 22, 2012 Liviu marked it as tried-but-not-for-me
I never enjoyed the author's style that much - did not hate it either but found it way too ponderous like a schoolteacher presenting a lesson in many ways - and his subject matter in Winter's Tale and Soldier of Great war did not interest me enough to put up with it - this one seemed more interesting; same very ponderous style taking a page to talk about things others describe into a paragraph and again the content turned out to be not really that interesting as i went fast through the book and ...more
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I am so disappointed. I have read other Mark Helprin books (Memoirs of an Ant Proof Case, Freddy and Frederica among them) and loved them. This one I did not love. The writing is so overblown. The descriptions are endless; similes abound on every page, nearly every paragraph. Where was the editor? Why wasn't Mr. Helprin told that the style is over the top. I also found elements of the plot unbelievable. For example, why did Catherine's family let Victor continue preying on their daughter? I find ...more
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mind numbing, like sinking in quicksand, ponderous, unforgivable 5 42 Aug 23, 2014 10:56PM  
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Mark Helprin belongs to no literary school, movement, tendency, or trend. As many have observed and as Time Magazine has phrased it, “He lights his own way.” His three collections of short stories (A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Ellis Island and Other Stories, and The Pacific and Other Stories), six novels (Refiner's Fire, Winter's Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Memoir From Antproof Case ...more
More about Mark Helprin...
Winter's Tale A Soldier of the Great War Freddy and Fredericka Memoir from Antproof Case The Pacific and Other Stories

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“What could be more lovely than writing a book about something you love?” 7 likes
“And then I went out to the ocean. Do you know what it was like? The waves broke, and each time they did, as they slapped against the sand, I could feel it all through my body. And each time they broke, and each time they thudded down, they said, you have only one life, you have only one life.” 7 likes
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