The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan
Published: July 19th 2016
It’s November of 2020, and the world is freezing over, each day colder than the last. There’s snow in Israel; the Thames is overflowing; and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south–but not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.
Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they’ll all be ready.
The Sunlight Pilgrims is a visionary story of courage and resilience in the midst of nature’s most violent hour. It’s by turns an homage to the portentous beauty of our natural world, and to just how strong we can be, if the will and the hope is there, to survive its worst
At a mere 288 pages, Jenni Fagan’s, Sunlight Pilgrims packs a serious punch. Fagan is a writer that masters the art of distilling prose. The Sunlight Pilgrims is a story of the resilience of humanity in the midst of nature’s darkest hour.
Set in November of 2020 the world is freezing over. Each day is colder than the last. The world is a place of mass panic and hysteria with the unthinkable becoming a reality; Israel is freezing, Norway is drifting to the coast of Scotland.
This is a very insightful and deliberate read. The author wants the reader to pause, to really absorb the story and process that this could in fact be the world we are living in one day. For such a grim story, Fagan uses beautiful prose to bring to life a world slowly meeting its end as a new ice age sets in.
The dreary world setting plays as a backdrop to the story. We meet character’s living their lives and we see time moving forward through the indication of colder temperatures. The idea of a frozen wasteland oddly inspires some beautiful imagery.
The story centres around three characters: Constance, Dylan and Stella. The book is told from the perspectives of Dylan and Stella. The reader is not privy to the inner workings of Constance’s mind, instead we see her as the other characters do. This was a unique method for Fagan to use, instead of offering Constance her own viewpoint, we cast our opinions of her simply through the views of others.
The perfect combination of fear and intrigue. The three characters we bond with are each so unique and quirky. Seeing the world from their alternating views offers new angles of perspective on, well, everything we believe to be true about life and the world we live in.
The story successfully touches on many important issues: grief, gender identity, shaming, bullying and sexuality. There is so much more to this story than a world of ice. The characters bring it to life, and spark a fire of emotion within the reader.
It is rather eerie and disconcerting to think this book is set only four-years from today. Could the world really change this much? Could this one-day be our world? This novel really leaves an unsettling feeling, sending chills up your spine, leaving you questioning, what if? A fantastic read that will linger in your mind long after the last word is read.