The Dying of the Light by Robert Goolrick

Goolrick, presents a heady Southern Gothic tale surrounding a grand house and the woman tied to it.  Diana Cooke was born at the turn of the century to a once prominent Virginia family, but dwindling finances force her to marry for money.  Dubbed the debutante of the century, she enthralls the mysterious and nouveau riche Captain Copperton and a brief and rocky union is forged resulting in one much-adored son.

The crux of the story takes place in the year leading up to the United States’ entry into World War II.  Diana’s beloved son Ash returns home from college with his friend and roommate, Gibby.  Ash arrives in the midst of a storm that brings a tree crashing into the library. It compels him to begin a massive renovation of Saratoga, employing a world famous interior decorator, Rose, and book restoration expert, Lucius.  Gibby is immediately drawn to Diana and they become lovers, a decision that will destroy Diana’s relationship with Ash, and set into motion a chain of deadly events.  All the while, Lucius and Rose mingle within the family dynamic, contemplating their own aspirations and disappointments.

The Dying of the Light does a wonderful job portraying the vestiges of the Old South and a way of life that would not survive beyond World War II.  Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize long-standing traditions clashing with modern times. It is similar in many ways to The Great Gatsby.  Goolrick demonstrates how strongly our heritage and family responsibilities can weigh us down and keep us from moving forward.  His writing is poetic and eloquent and word nerds will most certainly add to their repertoire. This is his fourth fiction novel.  A Reliable Wife remains one of my all-time favorites.