Valley of the Moon is magical realism, a genre I don’t read enough of because the books are hard to find. It was recommended to me by Angela @ Musings of a Literary Wanderer after I posted about writing for Country Woman magazine. I hadn’t heard of this book, but once I saw it compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife, one of my favorite books, I knew I had to read it. And I’m so glad I did.
Lux is a single mother living in California with her 5-year old son, Benno. She’s estranged from her father, but still fairly close with her mother in New England, so she sends her son out to visit for 2 weeks. During that time she goes camping in the Valley of the Moon. When a mysterious fog rolls in at midnight, she wanders into Greengage, a communal farm that was trapped in the fog after the 1906 earthquake. Over the years Lux returns to Greengage, when the fog appears (it doesn’t always appear on the full moon), and it’s the first place she feels she truly belongs.
This book was indeed similar to The Time Traveler’s Wife. It has character development and relationships that build over many years, which I normally hate, but because of the slightly magical elements and the lovable characters, it worked really well for me. I felt for Lux right away. Her life was hard, and she deserved the breaks she got when she visited Greengage. Likewise, Joseph, the founder of Greengage (which isn’t at all religious), had a lot of pressure on him, trying to keep up a front when the 200-odd people living there were very concerned about their predicament.
I found the story only mildly predictable and thoroughly enjoyable. This book is long, but it didn’t seem to drag at all. I was hooked from the end of chapter 2 when Lux stumbles into Greengage. I’m so grateful to Angela for her recommendation, and I have a feeling this is a book I will return to again in the coming years. There’s a lot of great character growth and a very solid story.
Rating: 4 Stars