[670]: The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

22399997 The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan
Hogarth | March 24th, 2016
Adult Fiction
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars

Set in a Scottish caravan park during a freak winter – it is snowing in Jerusalem, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to arrive off the coast of Scotland – THE SUNLIGHT PILGRIMS tells the story of a small Scottish community living through what people have begun to think is the end of times.

Bodies are found frozen in the street with their eyes open, euthanasia has become an acceptable response to economic collapse, schooling and health care are run primarily on a voluntary basis. But daily life carries on: Dylan, a refugee from panic-stricken London who is grieving for his mother and his grandmother, arrives in the caravan park in the middle of the night – to begin his life anew.

This book is tough to review. On the one hand, I’m somewhat disappointed because I assumed this book to be about panic and hysteria brought on by the coming ice age. On the other, I’m in awe of what Ms Fagan was able to accomplish here. Although there is an unfair balance between the two plot arches in this book, I was able to appreciate the sentiment.

I’ve always been a fan of apocalyptic books. I’m especially fond of reading (or watching) something close to reality like environmental and natural disasters. The Sunlight Pilgrims is about global warming and how it melted the icebergs. Consequently, it brought a cooling of the oceans, which then created  the weather phenomena that would usher in an Ice Age of biblical proportions. But if you’re expecting mayhem and chaos, you’d be disappointed like I was. We don’t see the panic that Hollywood is only too happy to show us in films. We don’t see people hoarding sweaters, food, and firewood. What we see are three people going about their lives not at all worried about the coldest, longest winter they’ll ever have.

In the forefront is Dylan who just lost his mum and gran almost simultaneously. They’d been his life along with a cinema that he’d had to give up because he could no longer afford it. His mum made provisions for him to live in a Scottish caravan community where he would meet Stella and Constance. In Clachan Fells, he hopes to deal with the grief of losing the two people who have been the sum of everything he was. Not knowing anything else but tending to a defunct small theatre would prove to be a struggle.

Constance is a fiercely independent woman who gives zero fucks about the gossips from her neighbours. From a long affair with two men that sometimes overlapped, to her daughter, Stella who once was a boy named, Cael, Constance marched to the beat of her own drum. Stella is transgender on the cusp of puberty. If she ever has any hopes of completing her change, she needs to start taking her hormone pills soon. But the coming ice age might impede the very thing she’d always wished for since she’d become aware of her true self.

These three people are survivors regardless of whether or not they survive what’s coming. Their false fearlessness convinced me that there was nothing to worry about; which is an odd thing to feel considering the scope of the impending doom.  The ice age was always in the periphery but the book spotlights humanity above all else. I am a newbie to Jenni Fagan’s writing (though, I own her other book, Panopticon). Well, let me tell you that this woman can write. The poet in her shines through with every beautiful imagery despite the bleakness of the situation. The ending was the kind of ending that left me scrambling and wishing there was more. Definitely more than the Acknowledgement page, that is.

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On the Night Table [39]: Reading Updates


Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff | Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich | A Song of Fire and Ice by George RR Martin | The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan


How was your weekend? This is kind of random but I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how much I wanted to have another baby. My husband is totally against this idea, though citing his age (he’s 44) and that he’s an old man who can no longer do the sleepless nights and the sport of chasing a toddler around. Every time I am around babies, I melt. So on Saturday, I was so happy when I got to babysit my cousin’s baby while they attended a wedding. She’s six months old, very sweet and very beautiful. She was such a good baby, though. She only cried when she was tired. Other than that, the kids adored her.

Yesterday, I basically sat around and tried not to think about the coming work week. Not that it’s going to be a crazy maelstrom of pushing paper, it’s just it’s been slow lately so I’m bored most of the time. What about you? What did you get up to this weekend?

I don’t know why I do this to myself. I literally started all these books this weekend except for The Sunlight Pilgrims. In my defense, this is what happens when you live in a place where a book is within your reach in any random rooms of the house. And even worst when a book is so good that you’re unable to put it down after a couple of chapters. So yes. This week, I found myself reading four books all at the same time.

Aug 7

The Sunlight Pilgrims is going really slow for me. It’s really weird because this novel is about the coming ice age, and for some reason, I’m not sensing any urgency and alarm from the characters of this book. This is really unfortunate because I was really excited for this. I’m close to halfway; the snow just started falling. Let’s hope the white stuff will light a fire on the story’s slow as a sludge plot line. I’m on page 103 of 272.

Jonathan Unleashed is a weird one. It’s a contemporary fiction about this man who found himself saddled with a couple of dogs. These dogs are currently showing him facets of his relationship that he may have been in denial all these time. It’s interesting, sure. But I’m a little put off with his state of mind. There’s a telling immaturity about him that makes him seem lazy. We’ll see how it goes. I’m on page 64 of 275 of an ARC.

Curious Minds is my baptism of fire into the world of Janet Evanovich. This is a brand new series – which I’m so happy about. I’ve always wanted to read her books but I don’t have the time to invest and read the backlist of her number of series. I can’t believe I haven’t read any of her books! After flipping through this novel, I found myself unable to look away. I’m in danger of yet another sleepless night, folks. This one’s about an eccentric billionaire and an analyst from a finance company who find themselves in cahoots to solve the disappearance of a financier. I’m really into this. I’m on page 48 of 323 of an ARC.

A Song of Fire and Ice has always been on my bucket list. I’m happy that I finally got around to picking this up. I decided to read this with the help of an audiobook because my ginormous copy is the size of a textbook. I’m loving it. I saw the first 6 episodes of the tv series, so most of the stuff I’m reading rings a bell. I can’t wait to get into it further; I’m on page 117 of 674.

So that’s what I’m reading this week, folks. I hope you’ll have a lovely week.

Happy reading!

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