At the height of WWII, impressionable young Elle Ranier leaves New York City to forge a life on the island with her new husband, Simon. Fifty years later, Elle—whose memory is fading due to Alzheimer's—looks back at her life on the mysterious island and at a secret she herself has guarded for decades.
Elegant, melancholic and emotional, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells is lyrical from start to finish ... [The novel] draws its narrative style from the realms of poetry, making for an atypical and dazzling reading experience ... Assadi’s willingness to trust her reader is evident, and the book consequently becomes more immersive and self-reflective ... Assadi takes great care in crafting each sentence, incorporating poignant and thoughtful language into the heart of the story. This focus allows Assadi’s themes to shine ... It’s rare for a novelist to so seamlessly bring their themes into the spotlight without relying primarily on narrative events, but Assadi is willing and able to take the risk. As a result, her themes are even more relatable and decipherable, and impart longer-lasting messages ... Eerie and spellbinding, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells is not for everyone; its plot is incredibly subtle, leading to some moments of confusion, and readers must be willing to work through these moments of doubt and be flexible as they continue. But for the right reader, Assadi’s work is the epitome of ingenuity.
This is a nonlinear novel built on memories, capturing Elle’s complex inner life while showing how dementia can ravage the mind. Assadi captivates the senses, compelling readers to pause and reflect as they progress through the story. Highly recommended for those who enjoy lyrical fiction that explores women’s inner lives.
... a lyrical and melancholic tale of grief, love, and a marriage’s open secrets, narrated by a woman who has Alzheimer’s ... The beauty of Assadi’s prose and the splendid depiction of a love that transcends death make for a singular rendition of an oft-told story. This will leave readers undone.