'Clair de Lune'
Author: Jetta Carleton
Published: Harper Perennial; Mar. 2012
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: TLC Book Tour
Synopsis: An unexpected treasure: A long-lost novel of innocence threatened, by the author of the beloved classic The Moonflower Vine.
The time: 1941, at the cusp of America's entry into World War II. The place: southwest Missouri, on the edge of the Ozark Mountains. A young single woman named Allen Liles has taken a job as a junior college teacher in a small town, although she dreams of living in New York City, of dancing at recitals, of absorbing the bohemian delights of the Village. Then she encounters two young men: George, a lanky, carefree spirit, and Toby, a dark-haired, searching soul with a wary look in his eyes. Soon the three strike up an after-school friendship, bantering and debating over letters, ethics, and philosophy—innocently at first, but soon in giddy flirtation—until Allen and one of the young men push things too far, and the quiet happiness she has struggled so hard to discover is thrown into jeopardy.
My Take: I always think it's interesting when novels are discovered and published posthumously. I wonder why the author chose not to publish to book while alive. Did they not think the book was finished? Did they not think it was their best? Did they have more to say on the subject? One that particularly comes to mind is Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (read pre-blogging). I loved this book set during WWII and found it fascinating to think that someone would have discovered a wholly written book once someone had passed away. Here again with author Jetta Carleton, we have a book published post-humously. She was already a popular author for the book The Moonflower Vine and I kind of want to read that one to see what I have missed but let's talk about her latest book.
Clair de Lune by Jetta Carleton is an interesting read. At times, even though it must have been written years ago, it reads like a contemporary novel and at other times you can tell that it is not. Set right before America enters WWII, we follow Allen Liles, a young female college teacher. She is unsure if she wants to be a teacher, she thinks she might want to be a writer in New York, but her mother wants it so bad, the women in her family have always been teachers, that she feels grateful to even have a job at this time that she better give it a try.
I liked Allen and could relate to her. When I first got out of college, as I am sure many young people feel the same way, there is a sense of loss. You don't really know what to do or where to go but you feel this sense of pressure to do something great and achieve something amazing and so it is the same with Allen. I liked that fact that this book was about a young female set to achieve these things and she wanted to achieve so much more and this was pre-WWII. I thought it seemed very progressive and it made me cheer for women's rights.
Now for the part of the story that didn't seem quite so contemporary. Since Allen is right out of college herself, teaching at a college she is not much older that the students, perhaps 1-3 years older. The students like her because she is so young and therefor relateable. Allen often feels more kinship to the students then the other teachers. When she starts to become close friends with two of the male students she justifies it in multiple ways. Really Allen? You don't think you might lose your job if you are running around a park in a small Southern town getting drunk with your students? Pretty naive. Sure, it's not the modern age of when we have teacher after teacher getting caught sleeping with her students but we aren't far from the time when it was improper for women to be seen with men without a chaperon so anyway you slice it just makes Allen seem dumb and I wanted her to be so smart and inspiring as a heroine. I guess that goes to show all humans are flaws.
I would certainly recommend it as an interesting novel and I think it would make a great book for a book club to discuss because the topics pertained within are still relevant today, if Allen did let me down in the end.
For other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!
Cover Lust: I adore this cover! This couple is beautiful and spot on with the correct time period!