Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Valley of Light: A Book Review

Terry Kay, The Valley of Light (New York: Washington Square Press, 2003) 239 pages

Three years after the end of World War II, a drifter is walking across the Southeast, traveling from one fishing hole to another. Noah Locke’s gift is for fishing. He’d served in the Army during the war and was at the liberation of Dachau. In his travels, an old man tells him about the “Valley of Light” and the large bass that resides in a lake there. Noah discovers the lake near the small community of Bowerstown in the North Carolina Mountains, not far from the Georgia border. Stopping in town to pick up some coffee, he quickly becomes friends of Boyd who runs the local store. After they spend time together fishing, the word spreads about this strange fisherman who seems to have a gift to catch fish when no one else can. Boyd encourages Noah to stick around till the following weekend for an upcoming fishing tournament and hires him to paint his store. Throughout the week, Noah also befriends Eleanor, a young widow whose husband committed suicide a few years after he came back from serving in Army in Europe. Noah learns the terrible truth of Eleanor’s husband (which he doesn’t share) along with the reason why the lake on which he has camped (home of the large bass) is known as the Lake of Grief.

Kay is a wonderful writer. You can almost taste Noah’s coffee and Eleanor’s pan-fried chicken with butter-rich creamed potatoes. You can almost see the light coming into the valley in the morning, burning off the fog. You can almost feel the heat of mid-day and the sounds of crickets and frogs and night. Reading the story, you get the sense of the goodness that is deep down in most people as they come together to help those in need. There’s a magical quality to Kay’s words and the images he draws.

This is a book about gift and about hope. Noah uses his gift of fishing in a way that brings hope to the people of the valley. It’s an enjoyable read even if Noah never owned a fly rod.


  1. One of my friends gave to me recently for my birthday. I have only read a few pages. I like what I read. Thanks for this. Now I am even more determined to finish it as early as possible.

    PS: I started out as a prose writer and now I can't seem to write prose...reading you here, I am encouraged to go back to prose.

  2. Great review, sage.

    Gooooo MSU! {grin}

    Happy St. Paddy's Day... think green!!!


  3. Wow - this sounds like a book I will definitely check out - great review. A friend of mine just moved back to NC, and I am hoping to visit her soon

  4. Happy St. Paddy's Day! I will suggest this book to me. kenju.

  5. Gautami--I'd love to read your take on the book

    Karen--I wonder if it's prophetic that Carolina Blue skies are shinning over Michigan today? Go Heels!

    Diane, North Carolina is a great state, I'm glad to have grown up there. Where in NC is your friend?

    Kenju, Happy St Paddy's to you too. Just be sure to wear Carolina blue and not green!

  6. Sounds great!
    I need a new book on my nightstand! :)

  7. As someone who spent many years in the book business I am always pleased, and a little surprised, when I find a gifted author with whom I was not previously aware. I was very pleased to find this review, and followed your link over to the authors biography page.

    Thank you very much for making me aware of him. I have added this book to my "to be read" list and am very much looking forward to it.

  8. Sounds perfect for my next fiction read. I'm in need of one right now, too, since I finished the one my blog says I'm reading...must update!

    Here via Michele's.

  9. Okay this has almost become like a game.....I have never heard of this book or author either and I even ran it by my husband to see if it was just me but he didn't know that one either. I am thinking you don't pick your books by the NY Times bestseller list huh? None the less this sounds like a delightful little read!

  10. It's Spring Break at CU, and so I have time to read! I wonder if I could get my hands on this book soon enough b/c it sounds like something that would really appeal to me. I love the idea of tasting the butter-rich creamed potatoes while I read. =o)

  11. Sounds like it would be the kind of book that I would enjoy reading. Great review!

  12. Chana, enjoy the book.

    Kevin, You read so much, it's great to know I stumped you on a book! :)

    Veda, enjoy.

    Deana, I know you keep waiting for the day I review something you've read or heard of... but I do take my books off the NYT bestseller list. I read a lot of reviews and keep a list of books that I want to read and if I don't add any more books, I might get through my list before I hit the century mark!

    Jaded, Clemson is on break and isn't in the NCAA finals.... I understand why you have time on your hands, it's good to see you stopping by. BTW, did you see Carolina on Saturday night?

    Tim, I think you'll enjoy it.

  13. Here's the true you think I'll enjoy it? :-)

  14. Murf, I don't know--it might be a bit vanilla for ya

    Karen, grin all you want--who's going to be watching games in the Sweet 16? Take care and nurse you wounds. :)

  15. well stated..the movie Valley of Light succeeds in creating the images from the book..highly recommended..

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