I picked up Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon somewhat reluctantly. It was recommended by a friend whose reading taste differs from mine, but who knows good writing, and the premise – a woman caught between two time periods – seemed a little far-fetched for me. But it’s summer reading season still and I figured what did I have to lose.
I’m glad I took the chance. It was a compelling and interesting read and I have to admit, I’ve been thinking about it days after I finished reading it.
Lux Lysander is a single-mom in San Francisco in 1975, who reluctantly ships her 5 year old son, Benno, off for a visit with her mother in Newport, RI. With two weeks free, Lux heads to the Sonoma Valley for some camping. It is there that she awakes in the middle of the night of a full moon into a thick fog which she follows into Greengage Farm which has been stuck in 1906 after the earthquake that devastated San Francisco.
There Lux meets and falls in love with the lifestyle of Joseph, his wife Martha, his sister Fancy and the other 100 or so residents of Greengage who had set up a self-sustaining farm in the early 1900s. They have recognized that they have been trapped by the fog since the earthquake, but until Lux arrives they don’t understand that the world and time has moved forth while they have not.
Thus begins a journey for Lux and Greengage, with her returning at every full moon when the fog appears. There are tense times when the fog doesn’t return for many months and others when she barely makes it back to her present time. I felt anxious as I read Valley of the Moon, I think because I knew this couldn’t end well. At some point, Lux and Greengage or Lux and her “real world” would be separated indefinitely. Would she leave Greengage behind forever or her son and real life in the 1970s?
I don’t want to give anyway any spoilers, but in the end there is a loss of time and experience and Lux pays the price for her and Benno’s choices, but in the end she almost gets the best of both worlds.
If you are looking for a quick and interesting read, I highly recommend Valley of the Moon.