Madison, Lucy J. “In the Direction of the Sun”, Sapphire Books, 2017.
Alex McKenzie has lived a comfortably settled life in her hometown of Stockbridge, Massachusetts but that all changes when Cate Conrad comes to town. Cate is a free spirited sailor and artist with whom Alex falls madly in love. The only problem (and it’s a big one) is that Cate has demons in her past that do not let her live comfortably with her present so falling in love is not really an option for her. She runs away from the possibility of love rather than face it. Of course, Alex is hurt by this and takes to nature to heal her aching heart. She decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. Cate goes to the artist colony in Provincetown where she is free to sail and be on the water. Both women become very aware of the fragility of life yet they must learn that love really matters in life.
If you love nature and you love the concept of love this is just the book you want to read. Aside from the wonderful descriptions of nature, we meet two fascinating women who learn how to live with each other despite the setbacks against doing so. We learn about the pasts of Alex and Cate and we understand the part that romance has played in their past lives and how they understand why it did not work for them. We then see them as they change to accommodate their feelings for each other. We sense how each was affected by the romance, and how the time spent afterwards, combined with their analyses of what was special and what went wrong, contribute to their transformations into their best selves. We definitely sense the hurt and frustration that Alex feels by being rejected by Cate and we feel Cate’s fear of being rejected and understand that is why she fears being involved and in love with someone else. Both women are aware that life might be passing them by without their being able to experience a loving relationship. As a gay male, I was totally surprised at how invested I was in these two women and how much I wanted them to find ways to love each other. I do not remember ever being so frustrated and upset over a character as I was over Cate.
Writer Lucy Madison has done a wonderful job of bringing nature and the possibility of love together in her novel. Both women are on a journey and need to deal with themselves before they can deal with each other and I am sure that we all know people like both of these women. I was amazed at how Madison has the ability to make us feel what her character feel and we realize that we are on their journeys with them.