Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

Valley of the Moon by Melanie GideonValley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon
Published by Ballantine Books on July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Literary, Sagas
Pages: 416
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The author of the critically acclaimed Wife 22 has written a captivating novel about a love that transcends time—perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Time and Again, and the novels of Alice Hoffman.

San Francisco, 1975. A single mother, Lux Lysander is overwhelmed, underpaid, and living on the edge of an emotional precipice. When her adored five-year-old son goes away to visit his grandparents, Lux takes a solo trip to Sonoma Valley—a chance to both lose herself and find herself again.

Awakened at midnight, Lux steps outside to see a fog settled over the Sonoma landscape. Wandering toward a point of light in the distance, she emerges into a meadow on a sunny day. There she meets a group of people whose sweetly simple clothing, speech, and manners almost make them seem as if they are from another time.

And then she realizes they are.

Lux has stumbled upon an idyllic community cut off not only from the rest of the world but from time itself. The residents of Greengage tell a stunned and disoriented Lux that they’ve somehow been marooned in the early twentieth century. Now that she has inexplicably stepped into the past, it is not long before Lux is drawn in by its peace and beauty.

Unlike the people of Greengage, Lux discovers that she is able to come and go. And over the years, Lux finds herself increasingly torn between her two lives. Her beloved son is very much a child of the modern world, but she feels continually pulled back to the only place she has ever truly felt at home.

A gorgeous, original, and deeply moving novel about love and longing and the power that time holds over all of us, Valley of the Moon is unforgettable.

When I saw this book available on NetGalley, I was intrigued both by the name of the book, and the storyline seemed quite interesting. For those of you who are not familiar with various parts of California, Sonoma County has been known as Valley of the Moon. 

…and then the plot: The story starts out in early 1900’s – 1906 to be exact.  It’s the year of the infamous San Francisco earthquake. We learn about Joseph Bell, who is a visionary running Greengage, a working cooperative farm community outside of San Francisco. Mr. Bell has started this community that currently houses around 270 people, including his wife. Everything that is grown at Greengage is shared, along with the work and the money raised. Although no one is hurt, the earthquake hits and a fog settles so that no one can leave the community.

Next, we are moved to 1975, and we learn about Lux Lysander, who is a single mother raising her son in San Francisco. She lives paycheck and paycheck and feels a little stuck in a rut. While her son is with her parents for 2 weeks, Lux decides to become “one with the earth” and go on a week-long camping journey. While camping near the “Valley of the Moon”, Lux finds herself in a very heavy fog.  Through the fog Lux sees a light that appears to be blinking and she can’t resist walking towards the light. Instead of arriving at a nearby cabin, she enters a new world named Greengage. Coincidence? I think not. I don’t want to say more that could spoil it for readers.

Ms. Gideon did an amazing job writing a time-travel-type of story mixed with a little romance, all the while not being too “sci-fi” about it. The storyline carried on well, the characters were understandable and believable, and the story was both familiar and original. This is the kind of story that will stay with you long after you have finished it. 

gideon Melanie Gideon is the bestselling author of Valley of the Moon, Wife 22, and The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After, as well as three young adult novels. Wife 22 has been translated into 31 languages and is currently in development with Working Title Films.

She was born and raised in Rhode Island and now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son. Please visit her website at

 Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a digital copy of this book for review! It was fun!

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