To embrace the future is to find the courage to accept the past.
Judith Hilford flees from an emotionally abusive relationship and accepts temporary lodging arranged by a friend until she can set her life on a new course. Lizzy Mayfield, a filmmaker who lost her lover three years ago, comes home from a business trip to find Judith and her child unexpectedly living in her apartment.
Lizzy wants nothing more than to be left alone, but as Judith has nowhere else to go, Lizzy allows her to stay. While Judith struggles to create a new life for her daughter and herself, Lizzy is confronted with the vibrancy their presence brings to her emotionally barren existence. As Lizzy and Judith gradually become involved in each other’s lives, they are both forced to confront the ghosts of their pasts.
Lindsey Stone was born in the West-Midlands of England, but at the age of 13 emigrated to the Netherlands with her mother and brother. Although she often misses the British landscape and its traditional food, she is pleased to live in a country where sexual orientation is no longer grounds for discrimination and where homosexual couples and their rights are recognized and protected by the law.
This was an ok read. Fairly enjoyable, though I felt it could have gone deeper, been more thorough in the portrayal of these characters. I never felt fully connected to either main character.
I was slightly confused as to why exactly Judith flees her past relationship, as the reasons were never fully explained, only kind of hinted at. We were told of certain things, but I never felt the impact of them. The author just skimmed the surface of both characters, and there could have been a lot of depth there I feel.
Fairly decently written, I wouldn't at all say this is a bad book, I just wanted more from it I suppose. There was potential for more.
I think the setting could have been utilised better, also. I love Amsterdam. It's such a vibrant city, but that didn't come across.
Wasted opportunities with this, but still fairly glad I read it.
The story flows slowly and steadily towards the happy ending. There is no angst, no trouble and no misunderstanding. Just a beautiful story about two women thrown together by accident. All in all it is an enjoyable read.
I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Amsterdam, as I've not been there in years, plus I was reminded of my own beloved Berlin. Someone had suggested the improbability of the special kind of open generosity some Europeans show, in allowing someone they don’t know to share their home, renting out little used rooms, would be deemed too unbelievable for American readers, but I am very pleased the author has found so much positive response with open-minded readers "across the Pond." This is exactly the situation which begins the co-habitation between the two main characters.
Although in the prologue we're presented with the cause of the grief for Lizzy, it was a lot later when it was expressed more fully. Having recently lost a friend to suicide, I'll say the descriptions of the enormity of the weight which presses down in all ways, completely exhausting you, was excellent. Anyone who has lost a loved one can identify, and even if you haven't, the writing skill displayed brings it home.
I enjoy an author who sets a moderate pace, taking care with details, building their world and characters quite visually. There are readers who are only looking for an aim, a climax, a reason for why they are reading a book, when for those like myself the experience is all about relaxing back and letting the author show me their world and thoughts as they wish them conveyed. Lyndsey Stone did this exquisitely. Beautiful writing, beautiful story. Being fully satisfied by such a well-rounded read was my reward.
To read the full review, please visit Queer Magazine Online, where I am a guest reviewer and on-staff. Now open to many GLBTIIQ publishers which you might be familiar with, QMO has many reviews/interviews available of books by your favorite authors and aspiring newcomers.
The cover of Awakening to Sunlight didn't thrill me, but it was next in my reading pile from the 2011 Saints and Sinners Literary so I picked it up thinking I'd read a few pages before going to bed.
I didn't put it down until I finished it.
Awakening to Sunlight is a very apt title, and the story sweetly gets the reader completely involved in the characters. I found myself rooting for both Judith and Lizzie to "wake up" and embrace a full-fledged relationship.
There is no race-to-save-the-world plot line, and there is no life-in-the-balance climax. But there is a quietly beautiful story about a couple of people who accidentally find each other.
I was a little nervous that I wouldn't like this book, since the blurb mentioned loss, and the involvement of a child in the story...I was worried it would either be too gritty and depressing, or too overly optimisitic in the way that love would save the day. Actually, I loved it. The characters are perfectly drawn, the build up of the relationship is subtle and believeable, and the emotions are very touching. I couldn't put it down and found the ending truly uplifiting.
I feel like that I say this a lot when it comes to lezfic, but I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I actually did. I am so over the "straight woman discovers she's not so straight after all thanks to one hot lesbian" trope, which makes an appearance in this book, but I can usually overlook it - mostly - if the rest of the story is good - but this just isn't.
I believe that this is the author's first (and, so far, only) published book, which explains a lot. I have a feeling that if she had more experience as a writer the story would be much smoother. As it stands, the author has a distinct tendency to "tell" rather than "show" emotions and motivations, which prevented me from really getting involved in the story. The characters were left feeling rather wooden because of this, I believe. Also, the author had a tendency to switch perspectives mid-chapter, which gives the story a very disjointed feel. The book needs a thorough (and rather ruthless) editing, because I do believe that the story had potential.
I was also left rather confused by Lizzy. She has walled herself off from the world, as much as her busy career will allow her at least, after the death of her partner, but she doesn't bat an eye when she finds Judith and her daughter in her house? It might be because I'm an American, but if I found someone I didn't know in my house, I'd not be very happy about it...but even for Lizzy, that doesn't feel true to her character, at least to me. I would expect someone who has put herself into emotional limbo for years would have a much harder time adapting to sharing her living space with two people, especially two people who make emotional demands of her.
The reader is told that Judith's partner is abusive, but there isn't much about this abuse in the book. Judith is so frightened of him that she has to flee before he comes home from work, which sounds like it is probably physical in nature, but she doesn't have any of the behavioral "tells" that I would expect from someone who had lived in a physically abusive relationship. I mean, I grew up in an abusive home, and I still, at the age of thirty-five, have a moment of absolute panic (followed quickly by a moment of MAKE FISTS AND FIGHT AND CLAW AND SCRATCH) when someone touches my back unexpectedly. But Judith seems remarkably unscarred from her years-long abusive relationship, except for her slight self-esteem issues, which dissipate quickly. I just expected more. A lot more, to be honest.
Speaking of expecting more - the story is set in Amsterdam, but except for a few spare sentences describing architecture, I really feel that this could have been set anywhere. I would have really liked the city to be featured a little more in the book.
Altogether, I'd probably read something else from this author, because I do think there is promise in this book. But I wouldn't recommend this book.
You could believe this was a just another story about Gay meets Straight and they fall in love. But that is such a small part of this well balanced story. A wonderful sensitive novel by Lindsey Stone, about a lost love through death and how to continue to live without your soul mate. A promise made to live and love again is never easy for those left behind. This story takes you on a journey in a most surprising way. Very well written and the timing in this book is well paced, very clever. Two women are thrown together by a change of plan and difficult circumstances, to one a point of refuge, the other an act of kindness. A further complication is a young child, who is unable to deal with her father's indifference. Both mother and child need to rebuild their lives and learn to be themselves, to be more confident in who they are and what they do next. I was pulled along and could feel the tension as the main characters tried to come to terms with life after a long relation with other people they love and now had lost for two entirely different reasons. A child that begins to feel what it is like to have another person ask what she likes. Happy to spend time with her to help her archive... a promise made a promise kept by someone other than her mother. This book was fascinating to read, set in Holland which made it a little more special for me on a personal level. I loved the expectancy of friends and the way Lizzy dealt with it was true to the story. It felt right to me that Grandma Isabel's words were able to reach Lizzy and help her to come to terms with her promise to Maurice. To show her a way to deal with her new feelings and take away the harsh cold feelings of guilt. There were so many points in this book when I expected the story to go this or that way only to be surprised by how cleverly it followed its own unique tale. I cried... I laughed... I loved it!
Lindsey Stone gives us an intense and emotional relationship in Awakening to Sunlight. Judith escapes an emotionally abusive household with her child only to land on a stranger's doorstep who is suffering from her own demons.
When we first meet Lizzy she is emotionally closed off to everyone - even her close friends. Judith is a raw ball of emotions, which forces Lizzy out of shell just to be able to lend her a helping hand. Two wounded souls with no thought of love find a way together to just live life together. Their stories are emotional as are their successes. Some of real life is missing as the expected consequences to some actions are taken in the book. Judith is a straight woman who has never had a homosexual relationship, yet there is no real conversation about this which goes against character type as she is very much a people pleaser and homosexuality is not exactly going along with the grain (well my grain it is). The end result of the book and the relationship comes rather abruptly as if Stone ran out of time and was told to hurry up and finish the book. It is satisfying, but lacks the richness the rest of the book and the characters have. Overall, I recommend the book, but be prepared for its intensity.
The writing in this book was a little awkward, and I feel like the author spelled out the character's motivations and actions a little too much, not leaving anything for suspense or mystery or for the reader to try and figure out on their own. The plot line was sweet but ultimately predictable. I did appreciate Judith as a character, as her life parallels mine in many ways... I just wish there could have been maybe a bit more character development and a little less rigidity in the plot. Ultimately, this was an enjoyable read but certainly not the best literature in the world.
This was a very sweet book about overcoming hardship and learning to change your life for the better. I think it had a very good massage and although it was slightly samey for this genre there were still parts of it that were new and/or interesting enough to make it worth your while.