Valley Of The Moon began when Joseph rounded up his family and a few hundred of his friends to create Greengage, a commune in the forest outside San Francisco in 1906. After a huge earthquake, a fog surrounded the commune that trapped them inside and also froze them in time. In 1975, Lux wandered into the commune during a camping trip, and was surprised to learn that she was the only one able to leave through the fog without dying like so many of the others trapped there. Her visit prompted her to try to live in both worlds, which proved to be difficult.
Lux was welcomed by the Greengage community and stayed for a week, where she fell into the rituals of their daily lives. She picked apples, plucked tomatoes, and did other odd jobs required to maintain the community. She enjoyed her time among the people who took a genuine interest in her life and felt at home with the basic way the group lived. But, I didn’t understand what exactly she liked so much about Greengage that kept her going back to it throughout the years. Especially since she didn’t have a love interest there or become best friends with anyone.
Back home, Lux loved her son Bennett, but was trapped in a life frustrated by the fact that her son was half Caucasian and half African-American, and that his father had abandoned them. As a single mother, she struggled to provide for Bennett as a waitress making very little money. Lux also had a strained relationship with her father that permeated her life. Much attention was paid to her interactions with her father during her teen years, but the stories seemed fairly normal for a teen. That background didn’t explain much to me about Lux’s decision not to speak to her father for so many years or give much of a reason for her to be so upset with her life as an adult. I wasn’t very sympathetic to what was supposed to be Lux’s miserable life mostly because she came across as complacent, lazy, and irresponsible.
I guess I needed a little more from the author in these areas to really believe in the story. Still, I was intrigued as to which life Lux would select and wanted to see whether she would become one of the members of Greengage. Watching Luz’s relationship with her son progress over the years provided the most insight into her growth as a mom and person. Later in the book, a love story popped up out of nowhere that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but did provide a great way to end the novel.
This was a good story, although it was slightly long a lagged in a few places. I thought at the end of this there would be some profound impact from the time travel that would result in Lux learning some huge lesson, but there wasn’t. Although she did make small improvements in her life, I expected a larger impact.