As I began this book, I thought, “How am I ever going to review this?” Light Fell begins with the intense, forbidden, yet fully consensual love affair between a Judaic scholar of some note and an illui, a brilliant Orthodox rabbi. Fallenberg’s prose is beautiful, his phrasing perfect, his allusions to Judaic literature and scholarship impeccable. And, though the love between these two men is so beautiful it might even be considered holy, it necessarily leaves serious destruction in its wake.
Though I kept wanting to believe in the sanctity of love, and in particular this love, I found myself hating what these two men had done. I, as a mother and wife and child, felt the profound devastation of the wives and mothers and children in the story. As it turns out, so does Fallenberg. The story continues from the points of view of the family members, each of whom is affected in very different, yet serious ways.
The book takes on a more complex energy. A tableau of family relationships emerges, which is no longer simply black and white, but many shades of gray. The central questions of the book shift. You find yourself recognizing that the question of whether or not you condone the affair that starts the book is not the main point. The story becomes one that centers on questions of humanity, forgiveness, and love. I finished and knew I could review this book. I thought to myself, “This is a heroic work.”