'Five past twelve. Do you know where your children are?' One hot summer night in a small town in southern Connecticut, while the tide is still going out, Laura Engstrom, fourteen years old, is awakened by the moon streaming in her bedroom window. She isn't the only one to be disturbed by the rising moon. All across town, dreamers are awakening ...
'Five past twelve. Do you know where your children are?' One hot summer night in a small town in southern Connecticut, while the tide is still going out, Laura Engstrom, fourteen years old, is awakened by the moon streaming in her bedroom window. She isn't the only one to be disturbed by the rising moon. All across town, dreamers are awakening,throwing off the covers. 'This is the night of revelation. This is the night the dolls wake. This is the night of the dreamer in the attic. This is the night of the piper in the woods.' A sequence of short chapters, each a tiny story in itself, introduces the reader to the restless inhabitants of an apparently idyllic American town. Strange children, petty crooks, thwarted lovers and simple insomniacs stalkthe pages of this enchanting short novel, building restlessly to an uneasy climax. Millhauser at his most imaginative and most lyrical, Enchanted Night is full of darkling menace. This is a novel to be read late at Night, in one sitting, preferably with the light on.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-08-23 Compared to his ambitious, Pulitzer Prize-winning Martin Dressler, Millhauser's new novella may seem slight, but it has a resonance and fairy tale allure that belie its slim page count. Set on a sultry summer night when an almost-full moon hovers over Southern Connecticut, the book follows a handful of small-town characters who yearn for anonymity, recognition, love or escape. Laura Engstrom, 14, seeks a solitary release from the deep restlessness that makes "her bones itch." Haverstraw, 39, lives with his mother while he works on a novel and despairs of ever achieving anything with his life. Janet Manning, 20, longs for the appearance of a "heartbreaker" she met on the beach that afternoon. A drunken romantic, William Cooper, 28, gazes into storefront displays, hoping for love and a lucky break. An old woman who lives alone yearns for company. He gracefully intertwines these lives and others with magical elements?a mannequin that comes alive, a chorus of "night voices," a silent visit from a moon goddess?to create a trance world suffused with luminescence and longing, where each character verges on the brink of fulfillment or collapse. Millhauser sketches each person's plight in a few skillful lines and repeats gestures and thoughts so their variations resound on many levels. A set of abandoned dolls, for example, awaken and pantomime a sorrowful romance that echoes Janet's desire for her young lover, Haverstraw's long-standing friendship with a friend's mother and Coop's abstracted love for the mannequin. Only a scattering of facile nursery-rhyme type of songs echo hollowly in Millhauser's elegant, penetrating tale. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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