The Sunlight Pilgrims
Author: Jenni Fagan
Publication Date: July 19th, 2016
Summary: The stunning new novel from the highly acclaimed author of The Panopticon
It’s November of 2020, and the world is freezing over. Each day colder than the last. There’s snow in Israel, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south. But not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.
Hundreds of miles away, 12-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they’ll all be ready.
Written in incandescent, dazzling prose, The Sunlight Pilgrims is a visionary story of courage and resilience in the midst of nature’s most violent hour; by turns an homage to the portentous beauty of our natural world and to just how strong we can be, if the will and the hope is there to survive its worst.
This was one of those books that I was incredibly excited for after reading the premise for it – a survival type story with beautiful writing that gives insight into just how amazing and cruel nature can be. Aside from a stunning cover, this book was high up on my list to read after I had heard about it.
Sometimes the whole disaster idea or dystopian novel can seem a little stale – after all, this has been a popular genre for a very long time, and after so long, the whole thing kind of feels like it is repeating itself. That wasn’t the case with The Sunlight Pilgrims, as this is a breath of fresh (albeit cold) air into the literary world.
Imagine a very cold world – a world where each new day is colder than the last, and everything is freezing over – a world that might mean your complete and utter demise if something isn’t done – people are evacuating to the south for warmer temperatures in droves. However, one young man isn’t – he is staying behind to deal with the remains of loved ones who have passed. Somewhere else is woman and her child who are trying to survive. Eventually, the paths cross and things take a turn for the less lonely.
This book is a very inspiring and hopeful novel. The story, while a tad bit slow in spots, was one of wonder, one that really makes you think. What would you do if this were your world?
The characters in this book are incredible – I loved them all. They were full of depth and personality, and really jumped right off the page. The novel was a character driven one, and those are always my favorites!