Wednesday, March 1, 2023


After hearing that I went out snowshoeing one really cold weekend, someone at work recommended that I read Starlight, Richard Wagamese's unfinished final novel.  Starlight is a love letter to the land, and the person who recommended it to me thought I would like it since I like being out in nature.

In Starlight, a woman and her daughter flee an abusive situation and find their way to the town where Frank Starlight lives.  Starlight is a farmer who takes beautiful pictures of animals thanks to his connection to the land - he is at home there, and the animals feel that connection thanks to his movements and silence.  Starlight takes them on, providing boarding and wages in exchange for the woman to clean his house, which was a bachelor pad thanks to only Starlight and Eugene Roth, his friend and helper on the farm, living there.  The four of them slowly become a family, spending more and more time out in the woods and learning Starlight's ways.

It's really unfortunate that Starlight was unfinished.  It ends rather abruptly (the publishers include a note on how they think the book was going to end, based off of a novella Wagamese wrote which was his source material for Starlight, and off conversations he had with friends about the novel), and reads very much like the early draft it is.  Despite that, it has some absolutely beautiful passages, specifically describing the natural world.  

The one aspect I wasn't fond of were the two men tracking the woman.  The person who recommended Starlight warned me that the beginning is a difficult read, but once I got through that, it would be better.  But the two men continued to track the woman through the entire novel (the abrupt ending was when they finally found her and were going to go after her).  As the book stands, I felt it would have been better without that stuff, being instead the healing journey of the woman and girl on the land.  But the book is unfinished, so had Wagamese been able to finish it, this part may have been a lot more rewarding.  

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