Mar 23

TLC Book Tours: Mini Book Review of Clair de Lune by Jetta Carleton

By: Jetta Carleton
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pub. Date: March 6, 2012
Formats: Paperback,  Electronic and Audio
Pages: 288
Genre: Historical
Age Group: Adults
Source: Publisher
Learn more about Jetta Carleton on: goodreads
Purchase CLAIR DE LUNE on: Amazon | B&N | TBD | IB

Goodreads Synopsis: An unexpected treasure: A long-lost novel of innocence threatened, by the author of the beloved classic The Moonflower Vine.

The time: 1941, at the cusp of America’s entry into World War II. The place: southwest Missouri, on the edge of the Ozark Mountains. A young single woman named Allen Liles has taken a job as a junior college teacher in a small town, although she dreams of living in New York City, of dancing at recitals, of absorbing the bohemian delights of the Village. Then she encounters two young men: George, a lanky, carefree spirit, and Toby, a dark-haired, searching soul with a wary look in his eyes. Soon the three strike up an after-school friendship, bantering and debating over letters, ethics, and philosophy—innocently at first, but soon in giddy flirtation—until Allen and one of the young men push things too far, and the quiet happiness she has struggled so hard to discover is thrown into jeopardy.


PLOT & SETTING: I would first like to thank Harper Perennial for for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review and TLC Book Tours for having me be a part of the tour.

CLAIR DE LUNE by Jetta Carleton is a little gem of a book. Recently discovered and published post-humorously for us to enjoy, the novel is a sweet story about a young woman, Allen Liles, who wants more than anything to be a writer. However, her overbearing mother who was a former teacher feels that the teaching profession is more solid for her daughter. Allen reluctantly agrees and becomes a teacher. In the books opening, Allen, who has had a brief experience teaching high school, is applying at for a job at a junior college in a small town in Missouri.

Allen gets the job, a new apartment, and begins her life as a teacher, but deep-down she knows it’s not for her. She still fantasizes about living in New York and working for a publishing company until she can become a full-time writer. Loving books of all kinds, Allen starts a literary seminar for her students. She decides to hold it in her apartment after school. She is disappointed when only two students show up, George and Toby. Allen soon begins an unlikely and charming friendship with the two young men — discussing books, music, the possibility of a war, and life in general. But this churns gossip and rumors at the school…and an incident which leads Allen to question the role of teacher.

CLAIR DE LUNE is short book and moves fairly quickly. The premise of the novel kept me turning the pages. It’s a simple novel, meaning it’s not overly complicated and filled with a lot of subplots. The writing style is easy to read and I could visualize everything perfectly — from Allen’s life back home with her mother and older brother to the small town charm where the college is set. Although the cover is somewhat misleading and I thought it was going to be more of a romance. The romance is actually very brief and I am somewhat disappointed, but it makes sense because of the teacher-student relationship boundaries.

CHARACTERS: Allen is a solid character who is relatable but very naive when it comes to her involvement with George and Toby. She’s also lonely and has no one close to her age to hang out with at the school. The other staff members are older, and the person who to her age is getting married. There is a lot of focus on this marriage which doesn’t further the plot. Allen’s relationship with her mother is a rocky one and done well, and I wish there was more scenes with her mother. Allen has stepped out of her family home for the first time — since attending school — and her innocence is brilliantly portrayed. George and Toby genuinely care for Allen and have their own unique personalities and stories. But the incident with one of them wraps up too fast and comes at the end of the novel.

FINAL THOUGHTS: CLAIR DE LUNE is written from Allen’s POV and the author’s which I think is  different. Often Allen is referred to as Ms. Liles, as if we are seeing her from a distance and not up close and personal. Carleton also injects her own opinions into the novel which threw me for a loop, like in the opening for example: Allen Liles is a fictional character. I made her up. Her story is made up to, but not all of it. Part of it’s mine, handed on to her, and altered to fit. Carleton goes on to explain the theme of the novel. Don’t we, as readers, know all this? This kind of thing usually isn’t stated at the beginning of a book. It’s almost like it should have been in an author’s note before chapter one or at the end. In the P.S. it’s said how the editors lightly edited the novel so it is kept the way Carleton intended. But I personally didn’t care for the author’s personal voice throughout the story because it often took me out of the story.

I also thought that CLAIR DE LUNE was going to focus more on the beginnings of WWII, but this is only touched on through dialogue with the main characters or it is described how a male character is entering the military. All in all the book is a good read and was enjoyable and satisfying. If you’re looking for a sweet, tender yet heartbreaking novel, CLAIRE DE LUNE is a perfect choice!

I’m giving CLAIR DE LUNE 3.5 “Mini Books” for being a story about life lessons of the heart and mind.

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3 Responses to “TLC Book Tours: Mini Book Review of Clair de Lune by Jetta Carleton”

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  2. This “little gem of a book” sounds like a great book to me!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  3. […] Friday, March 23rd: “That’s Swell!” […]