REVIEW: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

In brief: The second in The Waverly Place series sees Dr Sophie Savard returning to Manhattan after the death of her husband. Although she plans to start a new life, she becomes entangled in a police case.

The good: Richly detailed and fascinating.

The not-so-good: It’s a big book!

Why I chose it: Sounded like my kind of jam, thanks Penguin for the copy.

Year: 2019

Pages: 652

Publisher: Bantam (Penguin)

Setting: New York City

Rating: 8 out of 10

If you’re looking for a light book, I’m sorry but Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati isn’t it. A physical chunkster that rewards the reader with deep detail of characters and history, it’s going to give you unintentional arm strength while reading it. But apart from the inadvertent exercise, this book is what every reader is looking for – a detailed story where you can burrow in and enjoy every aspect of the story. Of course, there are loose ends but that just makes me think that there is another book in the series…

Sara Donati is known for the Wilderness series, which is as equally detailed and prolific. If you’re a fan of Diana Gabaldon, you will love her books. Quite stupidly of me, I hadn’t read the first book in this series (The Gilded Hour) despite having it on my bookshelves. I would recommend reading this first before Where the Light Enters, as it starts very soon after the first book. However, after some Googling, I felt less like I was in the middle of a conversation and more understanding of the background. (Plus Sara Donati uses articles, letters and police investigation reports to get the reader up to speed, which I loved). I would like to go back and read The Gilded Hour at some stage to get the full picture of the characters and how they came to be where they are.

The main characters, Sophie and Anna, are somewhat unique for their time. Both doctors, they come up against a lot of walls in their professional lives. Anna is a surgeon and Sophie specialises in obstetrics/gynaecology. After the loss of her husband, Sophie wants to help disadvantaged women, including those wanting a future in medicine. But meanwhile, Anna’s husband has an investigation that he wants both of the doctors to help with. Women are disappearing – is it their actions that are causing them to be murdered? It’s an interesting concept, entwining medicine and crime with history and putting female medics at the forefront. There are also a lot of characters in this book who also have their own problems, hence the list of characters was greatly appreciated. (I even tagged the page so I could refer back to it multiple times).

Despite the length and complexity, this novel is both admirable and delightful. It’s best read in large chunks so you can fully immerse yourself in the time period and keep reading that ‘one more chapter’ so you can find out more about the characters. Overall, I enjoyed it and it reminded me that I must read more of Sara Donati’s books.

For more viewpoints, do check out the other blogs below:

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