An Unlit Candle is everything I could ask for in a sequel.
What was the book about?
Like In This Small Spot, An Unlit Candle follows two timelines, one five years after the end of the previous book, and one starting in 1959 and spanning decades. I absolutely recommend reading In This Small Spot first. This follow-up tells the story of a very important secondary character from In This Small Spot, Mother Theodora, and what happens to Lauren after In This Small Spot. And I’ll stop here lest I spoil In This Small Spot, which, I repeat, you need to read first.
Religion; Forbidden Love; Family
How talented must an author be to make me relate to characters so so far from me? It’s almost easier for me to relate to shapeshifters or aliens than to someone who gives their life to god. I don’t believe in the power of prayer. I don’t believe in depriving oneself of human love. As one of the MCs said in In This Small Spot, falling in love made her a better nun and that makes a lot of sense to me. The way I see it, forsaking love makes you distracted and, not to be dramatic but it’s happened before, sometimes it makes you Darth Vader.
That said, I disagree but I do not judge, and the author made the characters’ choices and decisions feel right. Hard at times, even heartbreaking, but right. In In This Small Spot, Mother Theodora was the wise and understanding woman guiding Mickey and the other sisters. Here we get to know the vivacious and responsible young woman she once was and understand the journey to becoming the abbess. The impact such a journey has on others, on family, the things you leave behind, what you discover on the way, the loneliness at the top as well.
I also loved Lauren’s character in In This Small Spot and was happy to find out what happened to her after the events of the first book, and to get more insight into her choices. In This Small Spot was very much focused on Mickey, and Lauren’s perspective in this sequel was welcome. Werlinger writes both time periods in alternate chapters in a completely organic way. Even if you’re not usually a flashback fan, you shouldn’t have any problem following here.
One last thing because I can’t not mention it when reviewing one of Caren J. Werlinger’s books: the writing is wonderful.
Writing about chemistry in this book feels beside the point. It’s not about romance, even if it’s about love, even if there is a romance too. More than anything, it’s about allowing oneself to feel and allowing these feelings to be. Or not allowing, for that matter. This isn’t to say there isn’t angst or attraction. There’s all that, and a lot more. Just don’t expect steamy scenes.
In This Small Spot broke my heart. An Unlit Candle gave me closure.