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The Valley of Light

The Valley of Light

A Novel

  • reading group guide
From Terry Kay, one of America's most gifted storytellers, comes a poignant novel of love, acceptance, and the wonders of the world in which we live.
In the summer of 1948, Noah Locke arrives in the small North Carolina hamlet of Bowerstown, set deep in the Valley of Light. A quiet, simple man and army veteran, Noah is haunted by the horrors he witnessed when his infantry unit liberated Dachau. Wandering the South, he seeks both to escape the past and to find a place to call home.
Noah is initially treated with amusement by the people of Bowerstown -- until he begins fishing. For Noah possesses an almost magical ability with a rod and reel. He soon becomes the talk of the valley and is urged to stay long enough to participate in the annual school fishing contest. He agrees, finding lodging in an abandoned shack by what is known as the Lake of Grief, which the locals believe holds no fish. Noah knows they are wrong; beneath the water is a warrior bass waiting to test Noah's gift. But above the water, Noah's innocence catches the heart of Eleanor Cunningham, whose husband supposedly killed himself after returning from the war. Over the course of a week, Noah will be led into the private lives of the residents of the Valley of Light, will join them as they mourn a tragedy, and will experience a miracle that will guide him home at last.
Uplifting, memorable, and deeply emotional, The Valley of Light is the finest work to date from a brilliant teller of heartfelt tales.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743475952 | 
  • October 2004
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Reading Group Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1) Noah Locke is an interesting protagonist. While much of the action centers on him, often -- in large part due to his quiet, somewhat stoic nature -- it is difficult to tell what is going on beneath the surface. The novel's third-person omniscient point of view makes it possible for the author to describe Noah's thoughts and feelings, but even so, it is difficult for the reader to decipher Noah's true emotional state. Did you feel, by the end of the novel, that you understood what motivates Noah as a character? Why do you think that he came back from the war unable to settle down in one place?
2) On page 4, we learn that Noah "always believed there would be a place to stop the walking, to stay, to become his own forest, show his own seasons." What is it about the Valley of Light that allows Noah to finally, at least for a little while, find a modicum of peace? He has walked through countless numbers of towns and met scores of good people, and yet he has never felt the tug to settle down. Does the novel give a clear sense of why this is? Were you surprised that Noah did not decide to stay in the Valley of Light?
3) Although organized religion does not seem to be a central focus of this novel, religious connotations and symbolism abound. Noah himself is on a quest, it seems, wandering aimlessly in a kind of emotional desert, a journey that brings to mind the stories of Moses. Names (of the town, of the characters) appe see more

More Books from this Author

About the Author

Terry Kay
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Terry Kay

Terry Kay's novels include Taking Lottie Home, The Runaway, Shadow Song, and the now-classic To Dance with the White Dog, twice nominated for the American Booksellers Book of the Year Award, and winner of the Southeastern Library Association Book of the Year Award. Terry Kay has been married for 44 years and has four children and seven grandchildren. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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