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Illumination Night

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  7,483 ratings  ·  533 reviews
Vonny lives on the island of Martha's Vineyard with her husband Andre and son Simon. Their neighbour Elizabeth, a woman in her seventies, falls from an upstairs window and her granddaughter Jody is summoned to nurse her through her convalescence.

The scene is set for a magical story of love and loneliness, of terror and human frailty, of the mystery and grace of ordinary ex
Paperback, 200 pages
Published April 4th 2002 by Vintage (first published August 5th 1987)
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Britta I think that's sort of the beauty of Alice Hoffman's work - she wants readers to really think... As readers we know Jody has several months to go till…moreI think that's sort of the beauty of Alice Hoffman's work - she wants readers to really think... As readers we know Jody has several months to go till she is 18 and legal - so there's a chance she could come back and be with Eddie - however, a part of me also sees her as the one breaking free of all the patterns that are holding so many of the characters back - the mirrored relationships between parents and their children is a driving force in all six of the main characters lives. Perhaps it was her grandmother's love for her that really set her free? I don't think there's any real answer, but these were my thoughts :) (less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  7,483 ratings  ·  533 reviews

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Always Pouting
Vonny and Andre live in Martha's vineyard with their son Simon and live next door to an old women whose granddaughter ends up moving in. The story just follows them around for two years. There was really no story line or plot here and the characters felt one dimensional. I enjoyed the writing and I loved the giant but everyone else was pretty hard to sympathize with except maybe the old lady. I understand showing a characters weaknesses but you still have to humanize them for the reader, everyon ...more
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Alice Hoffman’s books are not the kind you read and soon forget. Instead, they haunt you for years after you finish them, reminding you to search for light in darkness. They don’t impose their presence, though. They seem to come to us as a memory exactly when we need them to, almost as if they were summoned. They are indeed enchanting, their simplicity absolutely astounding.

Illumination Night reminded me of The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier, the very first book I read in English.
ILLUMINATION NIGHT is so beautifully written it almost feels like a fairy tale. I don't remember a book by Alice Hoffman which I did not love. I highly recommend giving this wonderful book a try! ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For a book called Illumination Night , there sure is a shadow over this story. The majority of the time, the characters are all in significant inner turmoil. They have their brief glimpses of joy, but then the perspective shifts back to another character in angst. I also find the dolefulness of the characters overly-contrived for the sake of soap-opera-esque melodrama. It evoked for me the mental eye rolling previously reserved for the Twilight series. The book plays out somewhat like a fairyta ...more
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of my favorite alice hoffman books, aside from "the river king". her old stuff is soooooooo much better than the new.

so. much. better.

anyhow, it takes place on the vineyard, which was excellent, becuase i could picture everything in my brain. also, her imagery and prose is aMAZing; it's like one really long poem, rahter than a novel. the characers are facinating too--they are flawed, but you love them, and you hurt for them, and you wish they were actual people that lived next door. and then
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book on a summer vacation in Martha's Vineyard and was both charmed and entertained by it. The tradition of Illumination Night and the summer gatherings of Methodist families on the island make a kind of magical, firefly-lit ambiance for this tale of people, young and old, whose lives intersect in unexpected ways.

The most fascinating character for me was the agoraphobic young wife, trapped in her house by fears she can barely articulate. Hoffman's treatment of this characters is
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The lives of the ordinary year round resident's of Martha's Vineyard are the focus of this story. An elderly woman struggling to cope with the true twilight of her life. A rebellious teenage girl unwillingly designated to be her grandmother's helper. And a young couple and their young son, all with their own inner struggles.Their lives are entangled in the most ordinary yet extraordinary ways.
Alice Hoffman is known for the magical element in her stories. This one had it as well, although it di
Mar 09, 2015 added it
Shelves: 2015
This was so freaking good. The integration of the mundanity of human life along with the magic of human life was so wonderfully done. The entire story felt real, but Hoffman also managed to maintain the mystical quality of existence.

So, yes, Bert. You were right. I did really enjoy this book.
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put it down. Not once. Read it in a couple of hours straight. Hypnotic. Beautiful. Hoffman is a magnificent storyteller. ...more
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Not one of Hoffman's best works. I'm usually a huge fan. The lackluster plot and characters left me feeling blah. The only highlight to me was the references to spots on Martha's Vineyard, which I've been to a few times. ...more
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this book I was in my early twenties and never married. At that time, I remember rooting for Jody. I recently re-read Illumination Night and now I find myself looking at the characters in a different way since I am in my early thirties and married. This time I rooted for Vonny instead. My favorite characters in the story are Eddie and Elizabeth Renny.
I love the way so many different phases of life are represented in one story.
Another cool aspect of the book is the town; whe
Annie Siler
I love Alice Hoffman and it pains me to say that I didn't like this book. I wish there was "It was ok" star. The writing itself is beautiful; she writes like no other. I did not believe her characters. I couldn't figure out who they were or really, why I should care about them. I love you, Alice - just not this book. ...more
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another good read. Though it was left open ended.
May 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: I absolutely would not.
Shelves: abandoned, audiobooks
Ugh. Oh my. UGH!

After this depressive drivel, how on Earth did Hoffman ever get published again? (view spoiler)
Oct 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I have not read many of this author's work but I do find her stories interesting. This one is set on Long Island, New York and involves a small family who are affected by the young woman who moves in next door and becomes obsessed by the husband. The wife becomes aware of the relationship and subsequently becomes agoraphobic, a condition which is well described here. ...more
Natalie Tsay
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
For a reason unbeknownst to me, I really wanted to like this book. It may have just been that I love the word "illumination," but ironically enough, I also just read Everything is Illuminated and was similarly unimpressed. Maybe I should avoid forming expectations for a book based on the title, because I was disappointed (probably unreasonably) in Illumination Night.

The novel takes place in Martha's Vineyard and centers around a small group of neighbors. Vonny and Andre live next to elderly Eliz
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early work by one of the great American women authors. Her style was just developing in this story about love, pain, family, growing up, growing, growing old, being little, being big.
As a Hoffman book I would only rate it at three stars. There are glimpses of the amazing talent she has for spinning ordinary words into something you would swear could nourish you like food. But it isn't there yet.
However, taken by itself I rate it at four stars. I recommend "Practical Magic" first of you are
Dele Haynes
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors. Illumination Night is one of her less known books,but it does not disappoint the reader.

The story takes place on Martha Vineyard with a young couple that chose to live there permanently. The young couple lived happily with their young son, Simon, till the next door neighbor's granddaughter came to live with her. Jody was there to help take care of her grandmother,but she was also there because her mother was afraid she was heading for trouble.

The boo
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was much different than most of Hoffman's, with little of her trademark magical realism. I still enjoyed the story. The characters in Hoffman's books are always flawed. The love they so desperately want always comes at a cost. There's a darkness, a sadness, a weight. I especially loved the Giant, and Elizabeth Renney. While I have to admit there was a bit of a soap opera-ish element with Jody and the neighbors, the writing was just so beautiful and hit every heart string just where it ...more
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adultfiction
I love authors who are able to capture and explore the flaws of humans. Great writing and interesting character development. A very sad book in many ways, but truthful and hopeful.
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book, z-2020-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tricia Sanders
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i loved this one, one of my faves this Fall
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it
I usually love Alice Hoffman and, while I enjoyed this one, I have to say it was a bit more of a chore to get through than other books I've read by her. Of course, the characterization is strong and her insights into human nature are universal, profound, and touching. Yet the book never really came together for me. I was bored a lot of the time and was relieved when I read the last page. Undoubtedly, I'll read more of her work, maybe this one just didn't come along at the right time for me. ...more
Talitha (Victorian Soul)
Much about this book is unusual. Alice Hoffman is great with magical realism elements, and making each of her many books stand apart with them- in this one's case, there is someone afflicted with agoraphobia, a giant, a boy who seems incapable of growing, and a teenage girl who seems hellbound on making messes of things wherever she goes. Jody, the teen, is taking care of her grandmother, Elizabeth Rennie after she had an accident. Elizabeth's neighbors, Andre and Vonnie have a son, Simon who do ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
The title of this book could as easily be Into The Woods, for within its pages can be found an old crone, who wonders if the neighborhood children think she's a witch; a terrifying (if warm and fuzzy and chicken- loving) giant; a wicked step-mother; a wolf, who may be more attacked by Little Red than vice versa; a precocious and gnomish little fellow... No wonder the main character,through whose perspective we meet this motley bunch, has wicked panic attacks!
The novel offers a timeless fairy tal
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my three all-time favorite Alice Hoffman books. Like most of her books, it's full of magic, desperation and tragic love. The love story between the giant and the girl (I forget her name -- it's been years) is just...incredible. Hoffman's newer books have left me less impressed than her older ones; the older ones had plots and incredible characters, but the newer ones get too lost in dreamy otherworldliness for my tastes. I gotta have something to hold on to, you know what I mean? Illumina ...more
Carolyn F.

Kind of a sad book - but then that's par for the course with Alice Hoffman. I had to take a break because I just was not in the mood to read about adultery but then got back to the book which ended up better the second half. Although that said, I wish someone would have come back to town although there was a kind of happiness finally for the last character in the book (finally!).
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmm...this wasn't my favorite Alice Hoffman book that I've read - I liked that it had her fantasical elements, but I thought she started out normal and good and then took too many weird turns. ...more
Sep 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very, very good. Compelling characters with serious flaws who are nevertheless still quite likeable. I love Alice Hoffman! There's no one else quite like her. ...more
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Read by Theme: Illumination Night 1 15 Jul 19, 2012 08:28PM  

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Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is Magic Lessons. She lives near Boston.

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