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A Northern Light Summary
Jennifer Donnelly

Everything you need to understand or teach A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.

  • A Northern Light Summary & Study Guide

A Northern Light Summary

Introduction

Jennifer Donnelly grew up on the outskirts of the Adirondacks hearing tales and ballads of the 1906 murder of Grace Brown, a pregnant nineteen-year-old drowned by her lover in Big Moose Lake. Donnelly's great-grandmother had been working at a hotel on the lake when the murder took place. Her firsthand account, reinforced by Donnelly's reading of Theodore Dreiser's novel concerning the same murder, stirred Donnelly's curiosity. Dreiser's novel, An American Tragedy, renders the couple's plight as a dark outcome of the American dream gone awry. What captured Donnelly's imagination, however, was Grace herself and how she could have been any nineteen-year-old girl. Upon reading the transcripts of Chester Gillette's trial and hearing Grace's voice through the letters used as evidence, the presence of the young woman haunted Donnelly. She felt a genuine...

(read more from the Study Guide)

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