Alfred A. Knopf, 256 pages, $25.95
Seven-year-old Claire Limyè Lanmè Faustin’s name translates to Claire of the Sea Light, named after the phosphorescent sea her mother swam in one night.
Edwidge Danticat sets her restorative novel in a little seaside village in Haiti. Several stories spin off back in time from the initial view of Claire, her father, Nozias, and the woman to whom Nozias is giving Claire, Madame Gaëlle, the owner of the local fabric shop. Nozias is a poor fisherman and he wants more for Claire than he can offer. His wife, also named Claire, died in childbirth.
Danticat superlatively takes the stories of several villagers back to the time of a turning point in their lives and then brings them forward to a point of conjunction with Claire, Nozias, and Madame Gaëlle on the beach.
There’s a lot more action than I initially thought there would be, but it is primarily a story about the choices people make and then must live with, as well as how they deal with the dice rolls of fate.
A lovely story.