The Dying of the Light

Written by Robert Goolrick
Review by Janice Derr

The only way to save Saratoga, the grand Virginia estate that has been in the Cooke family for five generations, is for Diana to marry a rich husband. With most of the eligible men off fighting in WWI, the odds are not in her favor. Fortunately, her intoxicating beauty catches the eye of Captain Copperton, who lacks pedigree but makes up for it with his enormous wealth. Their union is loveless and violent but does produce the one thing Diana adores: her son, Ashton.

After her husband’s death, Saratoga falls into ruin, and Diana, though still young, has turned into a ghost of her former vivacious self. When Ashton returns home from college with his handsome roommate, Gibby, the two begin plans to restore the estate to its former glory. They invite Lucius, a shy, reclusive librarian, and an eccentric interior designer, Rose, to join them. The renovations and guests bring a new life to the home and Diana, who begins to imagine the possibility of finding love. As the summer progresses relationships form and secrets abound, culminating in an explosive showdown.

Certainly atmospheric, Goolrick’s descriptions of Saratoga’s interiors and the Virginia landscape are cinematic and captivating. He rushes through the first half of the novel, though, leaving much unexplored. The reader is left wanting to know more about the characters, particularly Diana and what lurks behind her perfect exterior. This novel feels like it should be a sprawling Southern epic, but unfortunately, the one-dimensional characters and predictable ending hold it back.