The Effects of Light: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore | Review

The Effects of Light by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore


Blending themes of lost innocence, sexual awakening, and triumph over loss, The Effects Of Light follows in the tradition of such bestselling first novels as Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutton/Plume, 1999), and the #1 New York Times bestseller The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002), with over 2.8 million hardcover copies in print. – A dazzling new voice, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore is a graduate of Vassar College and the recipient of several literary awards. Most recently, she worked for the 92nd Street Y’s Poets and Writers program. – Foreign rights have already been sold in Italy and Poland. 

The Effects of Light
by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Published by: Grand Central Publishing (February 14, 2006)
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary Fiction / Adult Fiction
Source: Purchase
Buy Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble


If you have experienced the pleasure of reading Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s most recent works, Bittersweet and June (my reviews are here and here, respectively), you are aware of the quality of the author’s writing as well as her character development and story arc. The stunning character of her craft sent me on a search for earlier books, and I found two (there are more, I think). I will be reviewing the second of my finds next Tuesday.
Today I’m reviewing The Effects of Light, Beverly-Whittemore’s debut novel with reviews ranging across the rating boards on Amazon and Goodreads. Her entrée into the realm of published works foretells the success of forthcoming books.
Here we are presented with a story at once controversial, compelling, and charming. Two sisters narrate the story, one telling the past and the second sharing the present. The sisters, Myla and Pru, are raised by their exceptionally intellectual widowed father, Simon. A good friend and photographer, Ruth, sees possibilities in photographing the girls in the nude. Simon obviously gives his permission.
With Beverly-Whittemore’s lovely and descriptive language, I could see the images in my mind. Experiencing the sensitivity of her word choices to the images allowed me to “see” them realistically.
The controversy begins when Ruth decides to include some of the girls’ photographs in an exhibit, her first in a New York City gallery. Once the exhibit starts, the controversy ensues over whether these photographs of the girls are art or pornography.
For me, this is a classic argument in the art world. What the artist “sees” and what the viewer “sees” are often two different things. Similarly, what I gather from what the author writes is often different from what the author intended. However, if the work improves cultural life and existence for some and not others, that is the risk taken by the artist.
Intellectually and exquisitely well written, this is a lovely work and a beautiful beginning for Whittemore’s writing career.

Author Miranda Beverly-WhittemoreMiranda Beverly-Whittemore shares the following bio on Goodreads:I love to meet with book clubs, either in person in the New York area, or via phone or Skype. Please email me:

I write novels. My fourth, JUNE, will be out from Crown Publishing on May 31, 2016.

My third novel, New York Times bestseller BITTERSWEET (Crown Publishing, May 2014), is set at the home on Lake Champlain where I spent my summers as a little girl. But that’s where the resemblance to life ends—the place, renamed Winloch in the book—is inhabited by a family of bad people. I wrote Bittersweet for people like me, who love The Secret History and The Emperor’s Children; it’s a literary beach read.

My first two novels- THE EFFECTS OF LIGHT and SET ME FREE- were published in 2005 and 2007.

. . .

Check out more about me and my work at and Twitter: @MirandaBW. Also, check out my web project about girlhood friendship:

Happy reading! 


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