Sunspots by Karen S. Bell
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Spiritual
A Standalone Novel
Sunspots follows the healing journey of a young woman thrown into the horror of losing a spouse. It is a love story of loss and redemption and the ghosts that haunt our lives and our houses. Skirting the genres of magical realism and romance, Sunspots, explores the existence of the afterlife and the paranormal. The story takes the reader on a path of high emotion as the narrator, Aurora, uncovers her husband Jake’s secret life and her own internal conflicts as she matures to self-awareness.
The novel’s tone vacillates from irreverent humor to solemnity as Aurora relates her previous life with Jake and her present challenges. The title refers to the solar maximum which became the backdrop for Aurora’s conception when her hippy parents went to Canada to observe the Aurora Borealis. In name and in spirit, Aurora is connected to the observable and unobservable energy around us. With the help of friends, family, and the ghost of Viola Parker (her home’s original owner), Aurora accepts her fate and the secrets revealed about Jake’s true character. She realizes that in this life she will finally break the cycle of pain caused by her love for this man, Jake Stein, through the centuries.
Book Review – ‘Sunspots’ by Karen S. Bell.
I can find no other way to describe ‘Sunspots’ than it being a stunning piece of literature. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of a young woman Aurora who loses her husband Jake in a car accident and, during her battle to move on, is confronted with information showing her late husband wasn’t as deserving as she believed.
This story took not only Aurora on a journey but also me as a reader. I felt myself connect so strongly to Aurora and her pain, feeling heartbroken at her grief and a strong desperation for her to find peace with herself at the sudden end of her marriage. Sunspots was so cleverly written and I applaud Karen Bell for taking me on such a journey through her writing that when I finished it I was shaking and sobbing, feeling as though I’d been going through the same trials as the characters.
I sometimes feel sad when I read books where we are made to dislike the main characters original love interest immediately, and then spend the rest of the book looking for her new one, so it was a wonderful and refreshing change to see the development of Aurora and Jake’s relationship from the start, which makes us also in a way connect to Jake and feel hope that he too loved Aurora as much as she did him. This also made me more strongly connect to Aurora as a character, and grieve with her as she starts her new life without her husband.
What I really loved about this story was the glimpses of the past we were given throughout the novel. The switch from the present to the past was expertly done, and I greatly enjoyed how the two storylines unfolded. I was stunned by how cleverly the switches in time were placed within the story, as the chapters of Aurora and Jake’s beautiful courtship and their obvious love for each other coincided with chapters set in the present where Aurora was grieving for the lost love that she thought was perfect, and then as Aurora began to realise that her life with Jake had some issues, the flashbacks to the past showed the less deserving side of Jake which had always slipped through Aurora’s rose-tinted view of her husband. This was incredible storytelling, and helped lead to some brilliant character development.
The paranormal and spiritual side to ‘Sunspots’ was wonderfully balanced and whilst being an important feature in the second half of the book, wasn’t unrealistic in its role. It was instead a beautiful and poignant reminder that there is more to this world than we always realise, and didn’t at all detract from Aurora’s storyline of her finding acceptance. I loved the past-life elements that were infused within the story and there was some brilliant use of foreshadowing in the flashback chapters that all adds together in the final chapters.
I cannot recommend ‘Sunspots’ enough, and if I could give it more than 5 stars, then I definitely would. It is a beautiful journey of love, loss, grief and acceptance, which portrayed a realistic and heartbreaking view of the world that we live in today.
Karen S. Bell
Walking with Elephants was my debut novel in 2010, although I am not new to writing. I was a theater critic and celebrity interviewer for a weekly tabloid in Jacksonville, Fl and I earned a Master’s in Mass Communication from Oklahoma State University. For 15 years I worked in Corporate America as a technical editor/editor/writer. I experienced first hand the politics and intrigue that goes with that territory and the balancing act that comes with being a working mother. I salute all those mothers who are the glue that holds their families together while pursuing the nine to five brass ring. That experience was the inspiration for Walking with Elephants.
With my second novel, Sunspots, I continue to be in awe of the magical and wondrous phenomenon called life. As an observer and obvious participant in feminine values and approach to our human challenges, I bring this perspective to my work. Fascinated by the mysteries of the unseen forces that perhaps play a role in guiding our choices, I search for answers in the mundane as well as in the cosmic forces that surround us.
I am working on my third novel and live in Ponte Vedra, Fl. with my husband and our two furry kids.