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Charles Finch's

USA TODAY Review,coach factory'In Sunlight and In Shadow' shouldn’t have seen light of day
Here's a problem sure to elicit sympathy in these carefree times: what if one half of a couple is unfathomably rich,discount oakley sunglasses, and the other is only very, very rich?
That's the head-scratcher facing Harry Copeland and Catherine Thomas Hale, the couple at the center of Mark Helprin's disastrous new novel In Sunlight and In Shadow. When they meet, on the Staten Island Ferry, he has just returned from fighting in World War 2 to take over his father's leather goods company,coach outlet store, while she,coach outlet, scion of an eminent New York family, has won a part in a new musical on Broadway. They fall in love immediately and the next several hundred pages – which contain just about enough plot to pad out an unusually terse novella – track their relationship.
Helprin is a capable craftsman,louis vuitton handbags, with a string of well-received novels behind him. And the broad subject he takes on here – the urgent lyric beauty that love comes to bear after the terrors of war – is a deserving one,coach factory,coach outlet store, as the inestimable Shirley Hazzard proved in her masterpiece The Great Fire.
Unfortunately,coach outlet, In Sunlight and In Shadow is a monument of self-indulgence,coach outlet store online, pretension and false wisdom,louis vuitton outlet online, convinced of its own beauty and sagacity while possessing not even a fragment of either.
There are two problems. The first is Helprin's florid,coach outlet store, didactic narration. (Nearly every character speaks in the same voice as the author, too,coach outlet, a sure sign of a bad novel; anyone who wishes to observe genius at first hand should listen for the subtly different registers of speech in the dialogue of,coach outlet store,coach factory, for example, Jane Austen.)
Early in his book Helprin (Winter's Tale) sets the tone by declaiming, "That as love commences all couples must make bowers is written in blood." Later he comments that, "The charms of young women are natural, without diligence,coach factory, and unending. They arise effortlessly." (Young women will no doubt be delighted to learn this – no need to dress up any more!) Every page is jammed with this kind of nonsense,coach outlet, offered so seriously that to laugh at it once is to strike it a fatal blow.
The second,coach factory outlet, more insidious problem is Helprin's vision of the world. He is enthralled by money, fascinated with the names of the schools and beaches to which it can buy access,oakley sunglasses outlet, and the two wooden heirs at the center of the book, Harry and Catherine, he depicts as truly better, physically,coach factory online,oakleys sunglasses, morally,coach outlet online,coach outlet online, and philosophically, than anyone around them. At a party Harry hopes "to be inconspicuous" but "power issued from him unstoppably." Catherine is the most remarkable singer perhaps in the history of musical theater. And so on. As for the poor,coach outlet, a particularly disgusting portrayal of lower-class dialect near the end of the book puts them in their place; the real difficulty is in being rich,coach outlet,coach outlet store,louis vuitton replica, because "the money takes from you far more than it gives." Please.
There is a proper element of courtesy even to most negative book reviews, a recognition that writing is a difficult and risky venture. In Sunlight and In Shadow – a novel whose competence and pedigree makes its trespasses seem only graver,coach factory,fake oakley,louis vuitton replica, and whose author is interested more in his own grandeur than his characters or the world around them – merits no such consideration.
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Charles Finch's A Death in the Small Hours will be published in November,coach outlet store.
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