Synopses & Reviews
Can love and honor conquer all?
Mark Helprin's enchanting and sweeping novel springs from this deceptively simple question, and from the sight of a beautiful young woman, dressed in white, on the Staten Island Ferry, at the beginning of summer, 1946.
Postwar New York glows with energy. Harry Copeland, an elite paratrooper who fought behind enemy lines in Europe, has returned home to run the family business. Yet his life is upended by a single encounter with the young singer and heiress Catherine Thomas Hale, as they each fall for the other in an instant.
Harry and Catherine pursue one another in a romance played out in Broadway theaters, Long Island mansions, the offices of financiers, and the haunts of gangsters. Catherine's choice of Harry over her longtime fiancé endangers Harry's livelihood and eventually threatens his life. In the end, it is Harry's extraordinary wartime experience that gives him the character and means to fight for Catherine, and risk everything.
Not since Winter's Tale has Mark Helprin written such a magically inspiring saga. Entrancing in its lyricism, In Sunlight and in Shadow so powerfully draws you into New York at the dawn of the modern age that, as in a vivid dream, you will not want to leave.
"Three decades after his seminal Winter's Tale, Helprin offers another sprawling novel in which New York City is the participatory backdrop of a love story that begins as an American idyll only to be vexed by a legion of postwar anxieties. One day in 1946, Harry Copeland recently of the 82nd Airborne and heir to his father's leather goods company spots Catherine Hale, a well-heeled songstress with a Bryn Mawr pedigree. The two fall immediately in love, despite the objections of Catherine's powerful fiancé, and Catherine's career is savaged in the fallout of this star-crossed affair, which, from Penn Station to the Ritz and back to Harry's heroics behind enemy lines, swells to operatic grandeur over the course of 700 pages, drawing specters like anti-Semitism and the Mafia into its orbit and concluding with a desperate, violent scheme that will bring Harry's wartime expertise to bear on his sense of justice. And yet, neither love nor New York has ever seemed less complicated: despite excellent set pieces, Helprin's prose is often ham-fisted, his characters thin, and his invocations of Gotham Americana jingoistic. Still, there's fun to be had, particularly when Gatsbyesque descriptions of 'the great financial houses' run for pages, but subtlety is not the author's strong suit, and the lack of moral ambiguity in his larger-than-life characters registers as a missed opportunity. Agent: Wendy Weil." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"In this prodigious, enfolding saga of exalted romance in corrupt, postwar New York, resplendent storyteller Helprin creates a supremely gifted and principled hero....Helprin's suspenseful, many-stranded plot is unfailingly enthralling. The sumptuous settings are intoxicating." Booklist, starred review
"In its storytelling heft, its moral rectitude, the solemn magnificence of its writing and the splendor of its hymns to New York City, the new novel is a spiritual pendant to Winter's Tale, and every bit as extraordinary." The Wall Street Journal
"If [Helprin's] latest novel is a book out of time, perhaps it holds clues as to where the novel ought to go from here." Esquire "
"Helprin's delightful new novel is a 705-page mash note to Manhattan in the years immediately following World War II....Wise, saturated with sensory detail and beautifully written, Sunlight celebrates the unquenchable bliss of existence." People magazine
"Passionate, earnest, nostalgic, and romantic....Throughout the novel he splashes down paeans to virtue and beauty you'd have to be heartless not to enjoy." The New York Times Book Review
"In Helprin's rhapsodic rendering...In Sunlight and in Shadow is at heart a romance, not just the romance of two attractive young people but the romance of life itself." Los Angeles Times
In Sunlight and in Shadow is a sensational and perfectly gripping novel: a love story, a tribute to the fighting spirit of World War II, a hymn to the majesty of New York. The Washington Post
"Helprin is gifted at writing about war — not just combat, but the vastly complex and contradictory world that surrounds combat — and the passages describing Harrys wartime experiences are...lyrical, thrilling and at times astonishing....In Sunlight and in Shadow, like all of Helprin's novels, exists to remind us that...it is sometimes wiser and more fulfilling to cherish our deepest ideals than to mock them." Chicago Tribune
"In the long sweep of his textured, absorbing look at life in New York City in the middle of the 20th century, Mark Helprin talks about many big issues, yet always gives them a human face....Precise yet transcendent turns of phrase put readers right beside the couple as they deal with the circumstances...[of] a literary love story that rivals those celebrated in earlier classics. And Helprin has demonstrated once again the ability to make readers experience what Harry tells Catherine everyone must have: 'the friction, the sparring with the world, that you need to feel alive.'" St. Louis Post-Dispatch
An epic love story set in post-war New York by the bestselling author of Winter's Tale.
About the Author
Mark Helprin is the acclaimed author of Winter's Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Freddy and Fredericka, The Pacific, Ellis Island, Memoir from Antproof Case, and numerous other works. His novels are read around the world, translated into over 20 languages.
Table of Contents
Boat to St. George: May, 1946 1
Overlooking the Sea 12
Her Hands and the Way She Held Them 24
The Moon Rising over the East River 30
Catherines Song 45
In Production 55
And There She Was 68
What Youre Trained to Do 92
Distant Lights and Summer Wind 119
Changing Light 145
Billy and Evelyn 152
Conversation by the Sea 174
Gray and Green 188
The Abacus 196
The Glare of July 201
The Whole World 213
The Gift of a Clear Day 232
The Beach Road 241
Young Townsend Coombs 248
The Settee 261
The Economics of Hot Water 272
The Wake of the Crispin 284
Speechless and Adrift 310
The Evening Transcript 316
Lost Souls 333
James George Vanderlyn 353
Baucis and Philemon 360
Crossing the River 375
The Highlands 405
Glorious Summer 436
Counsel and Arms 536
Office in Madison Square 574
The Train from Milwaukee 585
Red Steel 597
A Passion of Kindness 603
The Letter 623
In the Arcade 652
Catherine Rising 670
The Horse and His Rider He Hath
Thrown into the Sea 694
In the Arms of an Angel 712