A hurricane is coming and the small, isolated island of Merryapple is in its path. For the residents of this small coastal hamlet, it means furious preparation and then a long night of hunkering down at the Moth and Moon, the local pub. The hurricane that ravages Merryapple will be brutal and the destruction it leaves in its path will be more than its inhabitants can imagine. The long night will open old wounds, tear some families apart, change futures, and help three men start over.
Wow. It’s really all I can say. Whatever I expected from The Moth and Moon, it ended up being so much more. Elegantly written with emotion and detail, the story drew me in from the first paragraph. Honestly, it was impossible not to become swept up in the fictional reality of Merryapple and the small village at Blashly Cove. I think anyone who grew up in a small town will be able to relate to the sense of being that comes from living and working so closely with other people. All their foibles, pettiness, and kindness come out in the actions of daily life or in the wake of great upheavals. Because every small town has a secret and Blashly Cove is no different. The author does an amazing job of introducing the town and, more specifically Robin, Duncan, and Edwin. These men connected to one another in ways they don’t fully realize and learning about them is half the joy of The Moth and Moon. I mean when a sailor, a toymaker, and a baker walk into a bar it should be the start of a great joke, not an exploration of loss, love, and grief.
One of the best aspects of this book is the realism of it all and by that I mean the realism of its characters. Robin, Duncan, and Edwin aren’t handsome, plastic men. They’re middle aged, weary, and carrying a few pounds. But they’re all men we know – one a bit clumsy and something of a village outcast, one working himself too death to atone for some imagined debt, and another who clings to the good because he has endured so much of the bad. Their struggles are ordinary and therefore relatable. We feel for these men and the town itself because it could easily be our own.
The only misstep of The Moth and Moon is the town’s distrust and dislike of Robin. Given what we think Robin’s father did initially, their derision seems somewhat out of proportion. Perhaps this was intentional on the part of the author because when we find out the reality of the older man’s actions, it’s astonishing. But this was the only part of the book that just seemed somewhat out of tune with the emotional core of the story. It’s a small issue at best and certainly not one that detracts from The Moth and Moon as a whole.
The Moth and Moon was a beautiful read, epic in its depiction of ordinary life and the healing power of letting things go, be it a painful past or a burdensome secret. It possesses a hint of otherworldliness that I think comes from the island’s isolation and its people insular nature. But all of this adds to an amazing story and characters that will leave a definite impression.