Published: Lake Union
Date: 27th September 2022
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Vale Lightner’s dreams turn to ash when the Pittsburgh bar she owns goes up in flames. Just like the past she escaped, very little seems salvageable. Facing unavoidable change, Vale returns to her hometown of Philadelphia to stay with her grandmother.
She knows that returning also means facing everything she left behind: a mother and stepfather who shunted her into the background from the day they married, and her charmed and favored half sister, Blythe, who has abandoned a perfect marriage and is now at a crossroads of her own. Everyone has their secrets, and this reunited family racked by them is about to reach a crisis point.
A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi is very much about a dysfunctional family. There appears to be a black sheep – Vale, and one who can do no wrong – Blythe. They are half sisters, or as one of them put it – well they only have one sister! At one time early on in life they seemed to have a good relationship but things later on went awry.
It could be said – the sins of the parents went a large way to causing this. For Vale a father who is a bit of a playboy, a mother who soon appears in a not so good light, a step father who really doesn’t take up much time in the story but still has an impact on their lives.
We all have our own perspective on events and it’s not long before the two women – sisters, start to see that their stories conflict in certain areas about their family of origin. Now they are both at Nana’s place, really the one safe haven they both have. They both have big life issues to confront and deal with. To me – it seemed the whole family could do with a good therapist.
Blythe is married but seems to be angsting over something, and the reader guesses early on what it is. Vale has new choices about where her life goes now after her business went down in flames. Plus – it’s time to work out all these sticky relationships.
It’s a readable book, it has a fun little nine year old next door neighbor, a really nice guy that soon has eyes for Vale, a little bit of insta love though, I think the author could have let this develop more gradually. It wraps up in a warm hearted way, however I’d still recommend some of these characters see a therapist for their future happiness!