Review: Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

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

Valley of the Moon
Melanie Gideon
Fiction
Ballantine Books
July 26, 2016
Hardcover
394

In this captivating novel from the author of Wife 22, a woman who feels lost in her own time stumbles across a California community that has, impossibly, been marooned in the early twentieth century perfect for readers of The Time Traveler's Wife, Time and Again, and Sarah Addison Allen.

Lux is a single mom struggling to make her way in the world when she stumbles across an idyllic town in the Sonoma valley where she feels instantly at home. It seems like a place from another time--until she realizes it actually is. One night in 1906, an earthquake left Greengage stuck in the past. Lux must keep one foot in her world, raising her son as well as she can with the odds stacked against her, but every day she is more strongly drawn in by the sweet simplicity of life in Greengage, and by the irresistible connection she feels with a man born decades before her time. Soon she finds herself torn between her ties to the modern world-- her adored son--and the first place she has ever felt truly at home.

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6 Comments

    1. Yes, I loved it! I raved about it to my mother, and I will be recommending it in Country Woman magazine. It was so like The Time Traveler’s Wife and 11/22/63. I was sad when it was over. Thanks so much for recommending it!!!

    1. Yes, exactly. I’m glad I didn’t know that going in though because I can be turned off by long time spans, but the comparison to The Time Traveler’s Wife made me sure I had to read this book. It was so adorable and complex. Similar to 11/22/63 too, which my mother loved, and now she’s going to read this book as well.

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