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Skylight Confessions    by Alice Hoffman order for
Skylight Confessions
by Alice Hoffman
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Arlyn Singer loses her father and finds her husband on the same day. Alone in the house she grew up in and where her father just died, Arlyn waits believing that fate will bring her future to her.

Fate does bring a stranger who falls in love with Arlyn, if only for a few days. When Yalie John Moody comes to his senses he runs back to Connecticut. Arlyn follows and refuses to give up on their future together.

Opposites in every way, the couple tries to make a go of their marriage, but Arlyn realizes she may have chosen the wrong destiny. Now there is Sam, their son - Arlyn knows he's brilliant and John thinks he's slow. Later there is Blanca who tries to protect her brother from his own self-destructive fate as they grow to adulthood.

This tragic family is full of guilt, love, and secrets. They live in the Glass Slipper, a house built by John Moody's famous architect father. Arlyn finds the house disturbing as did her mother-in-law before her, but she is drawn there even after she dies of cancer.

Skylight Confessions is a moving story with touchingly tender characters who demand sympathy no matter how flawed they appear.

Audiobook Review by Rheta Van Winkle (Rating:2):

Skylight Confessions takes its name from the house at the center of the story, an archeological treasure built mostly of glass and called 'the glass slipper.' John Moody, a college student at the beginning of the novel, is the son of the famous architect who built the house. He grew up in the glass slipper and is studying architecture. He reluctantly moves back there with his wife Arlyn and their young son, Sam, after his father dies and his mother moves to Florida.

There are three sections to the book. The first is mostly Arlyn Moody's story - the mother. Next is Meredith White's story - the nanny. Last is the story of Blanca Moody - the daughter. The novel moves seamlessly from one section to the next, as time passes. Weaving her way through the second and third sections is the beautiful ghost, whose sightings are always accompanied by visits from flocks of birds outside, as well as broken dishes in the kitchen and little piles of ashes and bones here and there in the glass house. Only John Moody and Meredith White are able to see the ghost, but Meredith muses on ghosts and discusses them with several other characters. She particularly wonders why ghosts might want to hang around after they die.

There is a conflict among the characters between the dreamy, emotional personality and the down-to-earth, sensible one. Arlyn seems to fall completely in the first category, while John seems cold and remote, always doing what is right but not listening to his emotional side. Everyone else falls somewhere in between, and Blanca is amazed to discover that she has acted with the same coldness that she has criticized John for displaying.

Alice Hoffman has once again written about people who seem real enough to strike up a conversation with. I didn't really like either Arlyn or her son, Sam, but somehow I cared about them anyway. Meredith and Blanca are much more familiar Hoffman characters: intelligent, somewhat insecure women who are sure of what they want from life until something important happens to change their minds. All of the characters are interesting and you feel you know them well even if they appear only briefly.

Listening to Mare Winningham read this novel is a treat. She is adept at changing her voice to differentiate characters, and she reads the dreamy, mystical sections especially well. We hear the complete unabridged novel in six hours. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook and recommend it particularly for short car trips.

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