Henry Childs is a young boy when he meets Mercy, a judge’s daughter, at the horse stable that he works at. They fall passionately in love, and, in the face of her father’s disapproval, run away together to New Orleans. The two lovers are happy for a time but end up being brutally separated after being hunted down by Mercy’s father, and Henry runs away to find escape in the Korean War. Throughout the violent battle, he seems to find his calling as a soldier, but also dreams of returning home and to Mercy. We know from the jacket of the book that he makes it back home, but in what condition will he be in? And, will he be able to return to the life he is missing?
The Coldest Night is a compelling and dramatic story that I continued to think about long after I finished the book. The best way I can describe the writing style is to say it is sparse – it gives the impression that the author is not including details that aren’t vitally necessary to the story he wants to tell. When you look at it that way the components of the story take on new meaning and symbolism. For example, Henry grows up without a father; in fact, knows nothing even about who his father might be. In what way does this impact him? How is this symbolic? So few details are included about his life, we need to assume that this is one of the important ones simply because it is there.
However, for all the interesting aspects of this story, I can’t really say I enjoyed the book. The style of writing is definitely not to my particular taste. The characters’ conversations and the way that they speak are odd. There is as much to read between the lines as there are actual words on the page, and there are many people who enjoy this style. Certainly, it’s received some very good reviews and the story itself is a strong one. But this style of writing is certainly not going to be appealing to everyone and for this reason, I have to give it a 4 star rating – a high caliber book that will be appreciated by a certain type of reader, but likely not appealing to everyone.
Rebecca is a stay at home mom and lives in Plain City, a sleepy little town in central Ohio, with her husband and young son. She enjoys cooking, eating, Zumba, crafting, and of course, reading!
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Algonquin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.