This is one of my favourite books I have read. It is brilliantly written and the characters so real and truthful.
A Gathering Light, or A Northern Light is based on the real life case of Grace Brown and the letters of her you read within this book are her actual letters.
Around the story of Grace Brown, is the story of Mattie who is one of the most real, memorable characters written I have come across. I love Mattie, she feels real to me and it is as if I really know her. A feeling I am sure she will understand.
Mattie to me is as memorable and as charismatic as Cassandra Mortmain from I Capture the Castle (which is just about my favourite book) and I think they would have been friends. Of course, they are quite some years apart. Maybe in this fictional world, Cassandra read a book by Mattie Gokey.
In 1906 Mattie Gokey is given a bundle of letters by Grace Brown who asks her to burn them. Mattie loves reading and lives in books and words and imaginary worlds where the good guys are good and the bad bad. Where there are happy endings or bad people get what they deserve.
Just like she becomes involved with the stories she reads, she becomes involved in Grace's story too.
A Northern Light tells Mattie's story - her wonderful story with her wonderfully strong voice. How she loves to play with words and look after her family and experiences love and friendship and hardship and joy and loss and everything else.
If you love reading you will probably see yourself in Mattie. Her passion is so great she carries it through all her life - even though real life isn't like books. This is something she ponders.
One day Mattie will write a book and it will be a truly great one that is about truth - about what really happens and how people really feel. I wish I could read it.