Book Review: A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay (Four Stars)


Book Review: A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

(Four Stars)

“We like to believe, or pretend, we know what we are doing in our lives. It can be a lie. We stand up, as best we can…. We move forward as best we can, hoping for light, kindness, mercy, for ourselves and those we love.”

Perhaps Kay’s best book yet. Historical fiction set in a world not quite our own, but parallel to Renaissance Italy. With just a touch of the supernatural.

“The lessons you extracted from history were yours to choose, weren’t they?”

Deep insight into the history and motives of many primary characters. Kay respects the readers ability comprehend things he doesn’t detail.

Younger readers may not comprehend the perspective of the aging narrator, but it enriches the tale.

“Why is there always sadness … entangled with joy? Why is that how life must be?”

While the tone and dialog is excellent, Kay occasionally knocks the reader out of the spell of the story by jarring modernisms, like “Do not go …” “You think?” Apparently bisexuality is the norm of sexual identities in that world, church of Jad notwithstanding.

“A place can become our home for reasons we do not understand. We build memories that turn into what we are, then what we were, as we look back. We live in the light that comes to us.”