Reader Reviews

We had some promo copies of Like Light From Stars printed and gave them to people we thought might be interested. We got a great bunch of reviews. Here’s what they had to say:

What a fantastic read. I couldn’t put it down although at times I feared what might come on the next page. Suspenseful and beautifully written stories that drew me in.

Ronna Dansky

Sylvia, I just read your book in the last two days, and it is really good. Vivid and full of historical texture, and a great read. Kudos.

Max Dashu

Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down, and ended up devouring it in one gulp. Many times I had to stop for a while because I was crying too hard to see.

Ginny Schwingel

I just finished Like Light From Stars, and it is beautiful! Thank you for fleshing out Lily…and Chloe too…and for making San Francisco a character in the story. You are such a good writer that I am in awe, I am stunned, I am humbled. I will never be as good as that. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a publisher…Stunned.

Trina Robbins

I got right into the world of the Hammonds et al, and kept having to remember to slow down & savor your talent; I got so into it I just had to keep reading to “see what happens”. Kudos to you…I love it.

Lorraine Anderson

What great, grand reading! What a great story….I want more… And so beautifully written. I so cotton to how you can so well develop your characters just by dialogue and action. I was having a bit of trouble for a few nights: I was so ‘there’ that I thought, for a moment, that I was there. Wherever ‘there’ happened to be at the time. There were many places where I just swooned with your references. Loie Fuller just about knocked me out…but there is so much more. I am rereading next week…I am having a fairly difficult time finding books I really can sink into…thanks for this one.

Buff Medb Neretin

… really enjoyed it. Good writing!

Betsy Valle

This really is a fan letter, Sylvia. I have finished your book, having put down “Wolf Hall” to find out what happened next to Norah’s ancestors. I’m full of admiration for what you have done. You have created believable, interesting characters and made some amazing imaginative leaps to other places and other eras. Your descriptions of skies, smells, city life (especially around Chinatown, may I say) are lovely and evocative. It was really fun to read about San Francisco the way you remember it from your childhood and the way your researches have revealed it. My favorite story, I think, is “Gingerbread Men.” The flashback structure really works well. You create in Ruth a most engaging heroine. What an achievement! I would be a far better person if I could imagine a vivid (and explanatory) childhood for MY mother! Writing these stories must have taken so much courage, and compassion. Surely some smart agent or editor will see the potential here. But in the meantime, I feel privileged to have been able to read this. Thanks so much. Excuse the gushing. I’m REALLY impressed.

Barbara Bernstein

I so enjoyed Like Light From Stars. The descriptions of San Francisco put me in the city along with its smells and sights and music. In fact, the description of music washing/dancing over a room and the people in it are beautiful. Allen is able to convey wisdom about human nature in such a way that I feel my own understanding has deepened. I now understand how children living through horrific events can “forget” and why. The pace of the book is always good, keeps the reader’s attention and never drags. Reading this family’s story, occasionally checking the “family tree” as I progressed from chapter to chapter, was enjoyable and rewarding. Like any great book, the ending does not disappoint. Allen ties her story together in the final chapters in a powerful and lovely way.

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner

I really love the story…and your writing and the feel of it. I wish I could react to your book more innocently. Then I could say how much I liked it, how it was evocative of places and times, that the characters seemed true. Saying I like it doesn’t sound right. I was moved, I was awed, and at the end, amazed by you and what you have accomplished…Now we must find an agent.

Kerry Jones

Loved it!  Parts sounded very familiar—you paint a vivid picture…So impressed with your writing!

Sarah Felix

I read your book cover to cover yesterday. Some parts were horrifying and some parts made me cry. I see why you were compelled to write it…It’s amazing to me how people survive the challenges we are given in life, be it our health, our families, our jobs, or just our cultural situation.

Janet Egger

I…enjoyed it immensely. I was completely caught up in your character development and felt like I was on an excellent walking tour of San Francisco.

Alice Silverstein

I started reading your book and can’t put it down! I feel like I’m there. I like how it spans time and has essential vignettes from  various points on a family tree. And I like the family tree in front of book. If I was a publisher, I’d snap it up.

Caroline Skinner

You are a great writer. The book is deep and wide, and each chapter held me spellbound. I loved the way the various parts of the tale were interwoven and interconnected. It was glorious.

Jan Marie Dubois, French tapestry artist

Sylvia Allen’s debut novel, Like Light From Stars, deftly portrays the life of seven generations in a family that comes to settle in San Francisco.  Her vivid characters—in episodes that range from 1849 to the present—give life to not only the history of California settlement, but the personal triumphs and struggles of a complicated and compelling family. In this beautifully wrought book you’ll meet characters that include a widow who decides to turn her life around and travel west in a wagon train, young adults who learn to navigate the complexities and ambiguities of life, sisters who take refuge in each other in a deeply troubled family, and many more. Each chapter shines from its connection to place, and the city of San Francisco, in light and darkness, anchors this thoughtful and beautiful book.

Nadine Fiedler


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