The stars are not yet bells

Hannah Lillith Assadi

Book - 2022

"A story of secrets, loss, and the betrayals of memory: a lyrical novel of an aging woman confronting her romantic past under the mysterious skies of her island home. Off the coast of Georgia, near Savannah, generations have been tempted by strange blue lights in the sky near an island called Lyra. At the height of WWII, impressionable young Elle Ranier comes to the island when her new husband, Simon, is dispatched by his industrialist father to find the source of the mysterious lights. The...re they will live for decades, raising a family while employing much of the island's population in a quixotic campaign to find and exploit the elusive minerals rumored to lurk offshore. Fifty years later, as Simon's business is shuttered in disarray, Elle looks back at her life on the mysterious island--and at a secret she herself has guarded for decades. As her memory recedes, her life seems a tangle of questions: How did the business survive so long without ever finding the legendary Lyra stones? How did her own life crumble under treatment for depression? And what became of the other man they brought to the island--handsome, raffish Gabriel, who risked everything to follow the light to its source? With echoes of We Are Not Ourselves and even Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells is a darkly romantic story of the tantalizing, faithless relationship between ourselves and the lives and souls we leave behind"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Riverhead Books 2022.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
240 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780593084366
0593084365
Main Author
Hannah Lillith Assadi (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Lyra Island, off the coast of Georgia, is known for its mysterious blue glow, purportedly caused by underwater stones. At the beginning of WWII, newlyweds Elle Ranier and her husband, Simon, are sent there to unravel the mystery of the stones, and to see if there's some commercial use for whatever it is that they find. Now it's 1997 and Elle is suffering from dementia, memories of her past blurring with the present day in unpredictable, often troubling, ways. At the center of Elle's memories is Gabriel, her first love, who drifts through the narrative, providing bursts of joy. Seen through Elle's eyes, the 1997 storyline is purposefully unclear, but it seems that Simon is about to sell their beloved home on the island, severing one of Elle's last connections to Gabriel. This is a nonlinear novel built on memories, capturing Elle's complex inner life while showing how dementia can ravage the mind. Assadi captivates the senses, compelling readers to pause and reflect as they progress through the story. Highly recommended for those who enjoy lyrical fiction that explores women's inner lives. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

During World War II, blue lights deck the skies above an island called Lyra off Georgia's coast, and Elle Ranier's new husband, Simon, is sent to Lyra by his industrialist father to discover their source. They could be generated by valuable minerals found offshore, and the business Simon establishes to find them employs many of the island's inhabitants for 50 years but never succeeds in its goal. Here, Elle reflect on her long life on the island and a secret she has kept close. From National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree Assadi, whose debut novel, Sonora, was a PEN/Robert W. Bingham finalist. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Assadi (Sonora) returns with a lyrical and melancholic tale of grief, love, and a marriage's open secrets, narrated by a woman who has Alzheimer's. In 1941, Elle Ranier and her jeweler husband, Simon, moved from New York City as young newlyweds to a remote island off the coast of Georgia in search of a variety of jewel akin to diamonds and known locally as the "blue legend." Many people have drowned while seeking the minerals, which are believed to lie at the bottom of the ocean, and Simon's fruitless search eventually leaves his business in shambles. Now, in 1997, Elle remembers her previous lover, Gabriel, in Brooklyn, whom she arranged to work with Simon on the island after claiming he was her cousin, and who died shortly after they arrived. Then, in 1961, Simon grows close with a geologist hired to prospect for the jewels. Elle's reminiscences become hazy as a result of her Alzheimer's, though "for a while, life remained in bright dreams," which evokes a sense of magic with images of mermaids and fairies. As the story of the trio's arrival to the island and their subsequent misfortunes gradually unfolds, Elle circles around the secrets about her and Simon's relationships with other men. The beauty of Assadi's prose and the splendid depiction of a love that transcends death make for a singular rendition of an oft-told story. This will leave readers undone. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Jan.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Assadi (Sonora) returns with a lyrical and melancholic tale of grief, love, and a marriage's open secrets, narrated by a woman who has Alzheimer's. In 1941, Elle Ranier and her jeweler husband, Simon, moved from New York City as young newlyweds to a remote island off the coast of Georgia in search of a variety of jewel akin to diamonds and known locally as the "blue legend." Many people have drowned while seeking the minerals, which are believed to lie at the bottom of the ocean, and Simon's fruitless search eventually leaves his business in shambles. Now, in 1997, Elle remembers her previous lover, Gabriel, in Brooklyn, whom she arranged to work with Simon on the island after claiming he was her cousin, and who died shortly after they arrived. Then, in 1961, Simon grows close with a geologist hired to prospect for the jewels. Elle's reminiscences become hazy as a result of her Alzheimer's, though "for a while, life remained in bright dreams," which evokes a sense of magic with images of mermaids and fairies. As the story of the trio's arrival to the island and their subsequent misfortunes gradually unfolds, Elle circles around the secrets about her and Simon's relationships with other men. The beauty of Assadi's prose and the splendid depiction of a love that transcends death make for a singular rendition of an oft-told story. This will leave readers undone. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Jan.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A story of secrets, loss, and the betrayals of memory: a lyrical novel of an aging woman confronting her romantic past under the mysterious skies of her island home. Off the coast of Georgia, near Savannah, generations have been tempted by strange blue lights in the sky near an island called Lyra. At the height of WWII, impressionable young Elle Ranier comes to the island when her new husband, Simon, is dispatched by his industrialist father to find the source of the mysterious lights. There they will live for decades, raising a family while employing much of the island's population in a quixotic campaign to find and exploit the elusive minerals rumored to lurk offshore. Fifty years later, as Simon's business is shuttered in disarray, Elle looks back ather life on the mysterious island--and at a secret she herself has guarded for decades. As her memory recedes, her life seems a tangle of questions: How did the business survive so long without ever finding the legendary Lyra stones? How did her own lifecrumble under treatment for depression? And what became of the other man they brought to the island--handsome, raffish Gabriel, who risked everything to follow the light to its source? With echoes of We Are Not Ourselves and even Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells is a darkly romantic story of the tantalizing, faithless relationship between ourselves and the lives and souls we leave behind"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Fifty years after Elle Ranier came to Lyra island with her husband to find the source of mysterious lights, she looks back on her life on the mysterious island and at a secret she herself has guarded for decades.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Named a Most Anticipated book of the year by The Washington Post, Good Morning America, Bustle, Lit Hub, Hey Alma, and The MillionsThrough the scrim of fading memory, an elderly woman confronts a lifetime of secrets and betrayal, under the mysterious skies of her island homeOff the coast of Georgia, near Savannah, generations have been tempted by strange blue lights in the sky near an island called Lyra. At the height of WWII, impressionable young Elle Ranier leaves New York City to forge a new life together on the island with her new husband, Simon. There they will live for decades, raising a family while waging a quixotic campaign to find the source of the mysterious blue offshore light—and the elusive minerals rumored to lurk beneath the surface. Fifty years later,  Elle looks back at her life on the mysterious island—and at a secret she herself has guarded for decades. As her memory recedes into the mists of Alzheimer’s disease, her life seems a tangle of questions: How did her husband’s business, now shuttered, survive so long without ever finding the legendary Lyra stones? How did her own life crumble under treatment for depression? And what became of Gabriel—the handsome, raffish other man who came to the island with them and risked everything to follow the lights? Darkly romantic and deeply haunting, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells pulls us into a story of the tantalizing, faithless relationship between ourselves and the lives and souls we leave behind.