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Radiant Shimmering Light


Radiant Shimmering Light

Lilian Quick is an artist who creates portraits of her clients’ pets. What’s unusual about this is that she sees --- and paints --- the animals’ auras. She sees colorful glows around them and includes them in her pictures --- vivid oranges, rose-pinks, soft blues. She never sees the auras of humans, though. (It is not quite synesthesia, but certainly seems close to that.) This does limit her marketability somewhat, although her clients do help her via positive word-of-mouth.

Lilian also relies heavily on social media to promote not only her portraiture, but also her relationships. She doesn’t have many friends or any family in her home city of Toronto, and is grateful for the feedback she receives on Twitter and Instagram. She might need to take five selfies before she’s satisfied with the one she posts, but every “like” reminds her that she’s out there --- connecting with people, improving herself and marketing her business.

And while she loves her work and the joy of creating art, Lilian is on an extremely tight budget. Her newest commission (to paint the portrait and aura of a famous poet’s greyhound) should help her not only to pay this month’s rent, but also to more widely promote her unique art.

"Sarah Selecky’s first novel is beautiful, clever and quietly quirky, with a heroine readers will root for and support. It’s quite a jewel."

However, Lilian’s life is about to change dramatically. She has a famous cousin, Eleven, who has created a hugely successful personal growth program for women called The Ascendancy. It’s enormously expensive but apparently quite life-changing for those who join and participate in it. Eleven, who used to be called Florence, and Lilian were great friends until their mothers got crosswise and their families stopped visiting each other. Lilian found Eleven again on social media, as Eleven brings her self-help event Express Your Enlightenment (EYE) to Toronto. After Lilian reaches out, Eleven sends her two free tickets.

The female-led, women-only event (with the exception of one male speaker) is astounding. Eleven is amazing on stage as she speaks, leads, encourages and interviews women who have completed her program. And she has invited Lilian to the EYE afterparty. As they reconnect in person, Eleven (having seen Lilian’s art online) proposes that her cousin leave Toronto and come to work for her at the Temple. The Temple is not a place of worship per se but the headquarters of Eleven’s enlightenment program. Lilian is hesitant at first but ultimately agrees. She sublets her apartment, moves to New York City, and joins Eleven and the women who make The Ascendancy happen.

The group is incredibly hardworking. But the office has fresh flowers, yoga classes, heave sessions (where they can get things off their chests and confess deep hurts), meditation moments, and various other New Age trappings to help them through their days and their busy event prep and social media marketing. Eleven is very generous with Lilian, even providing a free Ascendancy program membership for her. Lilian is learning, growing, changing, metamorphosing…and maybe falling in love. Her semi-synesthesia is even expanding to include more than animals’ auras. But is she really progressing? What about the old Lilian whose joy was creating art? And what are Eleven’s next plans for Lilian? Will they bring her more fulfillment, or will they interfere with Lilian’s real calling and destiny?

RADIANT SHIMMERING LIGHT is an engrossing, unusual read. Most of the characters here are women who really do support each other as they seek to become their highest and best selves, while documenting it all on social media. Sarah Selecky’s first novel is beautiful, clever and quietly quirky, with a heroine readers will root for and support. It’s quite a jewel.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on January 4, 2019

Radiant Shimmering Light
by Sarah Selecky

  • Publication Date: December 4, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1635571804
  • ISBN-13: 9781635571806