Skylight Confessions, is Alice Hoffman’s nineteenth novel; it’s an adult fairytale with twists, betrayal and love. The book spans over three generations, conveying the story of Arlyn Singer, who believes in destiny and love, her children and her grandson. On the day of Arlyn’s father’s funeral, she makes a pact with herself that she will love the first man that walks into her life. Mysteriously, John Moody, a Yale senior appears at her doorstep when he gets lost on his way to a party. Moody is the bland son of a well known architect in town, who built the famous Connecticut house known as the Glass Slipper. Enthralled by Arlyn, Moody finds himself drawn to her and it ends up leading to a marriage that will turn into heartache and mutual infidelity.
In an ominous variation of the nursery rhyme about the woman who lived in the shoe. Arlyn and John, live in the uncomfortable glass mansion with their solemn son Sam, and daughter Blanca, who isn’t even a year old when Arlyn gets the terrible news that she has cancer. Aryln dies while her second child is still a toddler; the story twists to follow the lives of Sam and Blanca as they try to salvage their lives without their loving mother.
Sam is a self-destructive artist who is constantly fighting a battle with narcotics and sorrow. He displays his anguish by spray painting various buildings in Lower Manhattan. Blanca, the only family member Sam actually loves is a beautiful loner that attempts to find the ability to love and forgive her family. She lives in her world of books but desperately tries to protect Sam from his internal demons and his inevitable destiny. The story then follows the life of Arlyn and John’s grandson Will.
Will (Sam’s son), is left in confusion to put the pieces of his mysterious family together. But it’s a puzzle of people who are incapable of understanding love. However, all families have their tribulations and the Moody’s are no exception. After Hoffman wrote this book she said “I write from such a subconscious place, it’s almost like the elements of a dream. I don’t understand what it means until I’m done. Sometimes I still don’t understand it. That’s where the readers put things together more quickly than the writer does.”
The characters within the story are complicated, relatable and all have a pinch of internal magic. “Sam was not like other boys, who would not have taken such good care of a necklace. He was different. He planned on keeping his word. The secret he’d told his mother was true; he was never going to grow up. He refused to go past this day when his mother left him. No one could force him because he’d already decided. He was never going to say good-bye.” (p.89)
This novel explores the themes of fairytales, torn families and how far people will internally tear themselves apart, in search of love and stability. It conveys that individuals are truly haunted by love and regret. I had the honor of meeting, Alice Hoffman and she gave me some of the best writing advice I ever received, “Always aspire to be the worst writer, to let the great writer within shine through your words. Then you will never be modest or disappointed.” Therefore, while some individuals may be terrified of being judged by their writing, are we all not mirror images of Sam and Blanca, searching for affection and clarity in a world gone astray?
- Alana Linchner