By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham – Book Review

By Nightfallby Michael Cunningham
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan

Peter Harris’s life looks great on the surface. He has a smart, lovely wife, a grown daughter, and a relatively successful art gallery. Of course, his gallery is stuck around relatively successful, unable to break free. Plus, his relationship with his wife Rebecca has grown strained of late, and his daughter will barely speak to him. Into this barely held together veneer comes Mizzie. Mizzie, whose nickname is appropriately short for “mistake,” is Rebecca’s much younger brother, a brilliant but wild young man whose presence disrupts the fragile balance of Peter and Rebecca’s lives.

By Nightfall is a very complex book, one well-suited to discuss with a book club. I’m not sure I really understood Peter and his motivations, and I’m not sure I can without taking it through with other people. The reader is very much inside Peter’s head, which male in such a way that it became almost entirely foreign to me. Because Peter had lost any real connection with Rebecca – or any of the women in the book – there was no female viewpoint, no matter how miniscule, until the absolute end. This made for a novel that I had a difficult time accessing. It was quite readable, technically well-written, but I failed to truly engage, because I failed to truly empathize with Peter.

I suspect I will have more complete thoughts after discussing this with BOOK CLUB today, but for now I leave you with these somewhat unformed thoughts.

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