Blue Nights by Joan Didion

83%

16 Critic Reviews

...your heart breaks for her increasing and incurable frailty, both physical and emotional.
-Guardian

Synopsis

From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter. Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old.
 
Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood—in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. “How could I have missed what was clearly there to be seen?” Finally, perhaps we all remain unknown to each other. Seamlessly woven in are incidents Didion sees as underscoring her own age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept.
 
Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profoundly moving.
 

About Joan Didion

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Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York City. She is the author of five novels and seven previous books of nonfiction.
 
Published November 1, 2011 by Vintage. 210 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 20 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Blue Nights
All: 16 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
on Apr 05 2011

The book feels like an epitaph for both her daughter and herself, as she considers how much aging has demolished her preconceptions about growing old. A slim, somber classic.

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NY Times

Good
on Nov 03 2011

The new book, no less than its predecessor, is honest, unflinching...

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NY Times

Good
on Oct 31 2011

...“Blue Nights” is a more elliptical book: the work of a survivor trying to understand the daughter she has lost, even as she surveys the receding vistas of her own life...

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Guardian

Above average
on Nov 11 2011

Didion's portion of...chaos has been cruelly and unjustly large: it comes as no surprise that in the end, she should not be able to digest it all.

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Guardian

Excellent
on Oct 23 2011

...your heart breaks for her increasing and incurable frailty, both physical and emotional.

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WSJ online

Excellent
on Nov 02 2011

...Ms. Didion has created something luminous amid her self-recrimination and sorrow. It's her final gift to her daughter—one that only she could give.

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The Economist

Good
on Nov 05 2011

With “Blue Nights”, named for the intense and portentous beauty of the dying light on a summer day, Ms Didion has translated the sad hum of her thoughts into a profound meditation on mortality. The result aches with a wisdom that feels dreadfully earned.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 15 2011

What wafts off the pages of this haunting memento mori are undistilled, profoundly human expressions of fatigue, fear, dignity, regret, and vulnerability...

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USA Today

Above average
on Nov 10 2011

Blue Nights is opaque, as if Didion was never able to decide what form this book should take.

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Huffington Post

Above average
on Nov 07 2011

...she's produced a slim volume likely to have many readers wondering as they close the covers whether they've ever perused anything quite so depressing.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
on Nov 06 2011

"Blue Nights," of course, is profoundly moving: How could a memoir about the death of a daughter not be?

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Excellent
on Nov 02 2011

This book may be Didion's harshest, most self-questioning book yet...

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Slate

Above average
on Nov 03 2011

For some of her fans, the glamour of Didion’s life has always been part of the appeal of her work.

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Chron.com

Above average
on Oct 30 2011

Despite a certain serenity in its title, Blue Nights is at times an uncomfortable read...

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London Review of Books

Good
on Nov 03 2011

Didion herself is its subject, its best subject. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t miss Quintana, far from it...her writing is measured and has its own kind of narcissistic grace.

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New York Magazine

Good
on Oct 16 2011

What she has written instead is a kind of biography of Joan Didion, and an elusive one at that. Like her novels, it’s more a work of accumulation than of argument

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Reader Rating for Blue Nights
73%

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