Where the Light Remains

Written by Hayden Gabriel
Review by Andrea Connell

Set in Cornwall in 1886 and 1986, Where the Light Remains weaves together the stories of two women, their marriages and their personal voyages.

1886: in a turbulent new marriage, Claira, a talented violinist, struggles to balance her creative drive against the conformist expectations of her husband, Munro, a farmer and conservative Methodist, who is both enchanted by and fearful of his wife’s passion and talent. Meeting the famous painter, Elizabeth Armstrong, who creates a portrait of her holding her violin, inspires Claira to bring her husband into her once private musical sphere.

1986: Clair, a painter, and her husband Howard, a successful businessman, have moved from bustling London to the same farmhouse that belonged to Claira and Munro a century earlier. Clair has fallen in love with her new home, while Howard feels the pull of the city and another woman. As her own creativity develops, Clair makes a discovery that changes her as a woman and an artist.

After an agonizingly slow start, I was intensely drawn into this powerful novel. I was impressed at the author’s ability to mesh two separate timelines so fluidly. The characters were flesh and blood human beings, with marital challenges that many of us may recognize. The novel is beautifully written, steeped in colorful detail, which is evocative of the artistic theme of the story. The book is divided into short chapters, which I found very effective in drawing and retaining my attention to the juxtaposed stories.

All in all, this was a lovely story and a worthwhile read.