Pilgrim's husband left her for another woman, stranding her in a Swiss town where she is involved in an accident that leaves three children dead. Cleared of responsibility though overcome with guilt, she absconds to Africa, befriending a series of locals each with their own tragic past.
Miraculously, Finn avoids every cliché about first- versus third-world problems. In this richly textured, intricately plotted novel, she assures us that heartbreak has the same shape everywhere ... The Gloaming is chillingly cinematic in contrasting East Africa’s exquisite landscape with the region’s human needs ... delivers a searing taxonomy of loss, and shows the way it leads to a cycle of violence.
The structure of the book is both effective and frustrating, drawing out tension and constructing Pilgrim’s headspace as frantic and scattered ... It’s a bit of a drag when a tense moment is undercut by the end of a chapter and a 5,000-mile geographical shift, and it is hard to see the bigger picture while navigating the early sections ... What makes The Gloaming such a wonderful book is the way Finn plays with these elements ... Finn is prying at what it means to be guilty or innocent, not in a court but in the world and in one’s own head.
...relentless, hard to take and all the better for it ... Melanie Finn does a fine job of holding off the details until we have spent a little time with her shattered narrator ... there’s an impressive intensity and urgency as Pilgrim tells her sorry story. At first. Unfortunately, Melanie Finn hasn’t quite managed to keep her hand on the wheel. After a while, too many coincidences and contrivances creep in. It starts to feel too much ... After the taut opening, it all starts to feel a little loose and directionless.