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Midnight Sun: 02/04/08

Midnight Sun

The economic boom of the oil rush brought Burke and Jack to Fairbanks Alaska. Ready to head home having grown sick of his construction job, Jack is conned into one last job by his friend Burke. The two of them will head into the Alaskan wilderness to bring back Penny at the wish of her dying father.

Coming on the heals of The Blithedale Romance, I can't help but compare Midnight Sun to Hawthorne's tale of communal living gone wrong. The cult commune that Jack and Burke find makes Blithedale look like utopia. I see a Blithedale connection in the way Jack narrates his tale of finding Penny an his time living with her until the ultimate downfall of the commune (a common theme in books like this). He sums up his time after Penny in a way reminiscent of Cloverdale's parting thoughts on Priscilla: "It didn't matter because she'd rescued me and somehow I was going to have to live with the mystery." (Midnight Sun page 270). Cloverdale's confession ends the tragic romance with "...myself ... was in love ... with ... Priscilla." (Blithedale Romance page 445).

Here though is where Jack and Miles differ as narrators: Jack never admits his feelings or emotions to himself or to his audience. He hints throughout at a connection beyond the $10,000 bounty for Penny but the closest he comes to admitting it is in that closing paragraph. Miles Cloverdale does finally come clean at the end of The Blithedale Romance.

For the most part I enjoyed Elwood Reid's style of writing and his descriptions of the Alaskan frontier. His characterization falls a little flat and there were times when Jack's narrative seems to get suck on the mundane details where I found myself either skimming or skipping a few pages. Nonetheless, I do recommend Midnight Sun.

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