In the Distance There is Light by Harper Bliss is an age gap romance with a little more taboo than usual. If you can get past the premise, however, you just might love this book as much as I did — and it’s even better in audio.
Sophie’s life is over as she knows it after her partner, Ian, dies. She can’t eat, live in their home, or even sleep. After staying with a friend for a while, she calls the only person who can come close to understanding her grief: Ian’s stepmother, Dolores. They muddle their way through the early months of life without him together, building a quiet life of emotional survival. Somewhere in the grief, something else starts to grow, but can they trust those feelings, given where they started?
In the Distance There is Light is told in the first person from Sophie’s perspective. Her grief is palpable as she moves through her days, an Ian-shaped gap following her everywhere. Because we see Dolores through Sophie’s eyes, we know she grieves for her son, but we often don’t know what that grief looks like. They’re both well-written, compelling characters, and I found myself enthralled by their story from the beginning to end.
The Writing Style
This is both Harper Bliss’s best novel and it’s my favourite by her. She’s hit a whole other level with her writing and I felt privileged to be able to read it. I may have called In the Distance There is Light a romance in the opening of this review, and it is, but it’s more than that. This is probably the closest she’s come to general fiction or women’s fiction, telling a bold, difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable story in a beautiful, simple way. This is exactly the kind of writing I’m excited to see happening in lesfic today, and can’t wait to see what else the genre has in store for us.
Charlotte North was the absolute perfect choice to narrate this book. She brought Sophie to life, making it easier to understand her path from grieving widow to being in a relationship with her partner’s stepmother (while still grieving). Because her performance worked so beautifully in every single moment, this might just be the best lesbian audiobook I’ve ever listened to.
This book left me wrecked. I read it all in one day, and that’s with going to work too. In the Distance There is Light has everything with an excellent story, characters, and writing style.
While I don’t want to get into specifics because of potential spoilers, I also really liked how the sex and Sophie’s sexuality is handled, because it’s perfect for this book.
And, of course, the audio version is just superb.
Some people won’t be able to get past the fact that Dolores is Sophie’s dead partner’s stepmom.
These stories have raised my expectations as a reader, leaving me ruined for other books, yet also hopeful that lesfic is finally ready to open its arms to more than traditional romances. I cannot possibly recommend In the Distance There is Light Enough and I will be reading and listening to this book again in the future.
Excerpt from In the Distance There is Light by Harper Bliss
I pick up a trophy and try to make out what it was for. When he first showed me his old bedroom, he would have certainly told me, but I don’t remember.
Then I hear footsteps approaching.
“Can’t sleep?” A whisper comes from behind me. I turn and see Dolores in the doorway.
“Did I wake you?”
“No,” she says.
Through the darkness, I feel her glance land on the trophy I’m holding.
“Why did you keep this room as his?” Nighttime takes away some of my inhibitions.
Dolores shrugs. “He stayed here often when Angela was sick. After she died, I could never bring myself to make it into something else. Now I’m glad I didn’t.”
She looks different in the low light of the desk lamp, stripped of her daytime armor of fancy suits, meticulous hairdo and makeup. Dolores looks more vulnerable than I’ve ever seen her.
More vulnerable than at the funeral, where she did cry, but not ostentatiously, and always held her chin up. Her eyes are red-rimmed enough for me to notice, in the feeble light, that she’s been crying. At this time of night, there’s no room for armor, and I see Dolores’ pain to its full extent for the first time.
“I shouldn’t have taken your bed,”I mumble. “It’s what you’re familiar with.”
“It’s hardly the bed.” Dolores makes a sniffling sound. She’s crying again. All this falling apart we’ve done, our nerves raw and exposed, all this fragility, I’m so sick of it already, and it’s only been a week.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9789881491008
- Publisher: Ladylit Publishing
- Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios
- Narrator: Charlotte North
Harper Bliss Online
Note: I received a free review copy of In the Distance There is Light by Harper Bliss. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion, I refuse to review books.