Blue Nights: Book summary and reviews of Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Blue Nights

by Joan Didion

Blue Nights by Joan Didion X
Blue Nights by Joan Didion
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Nov 2011
    208 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse
"Joan Didion's writing seems to get more brittle with the passing of time; Blue Nights was just so depressing that even I, a fan of the downbeat and melancholy, felt bludgeoned by the sheer bleakness of it. Writers like Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood are doing a much better (and livelier!) job of mining similar territory, i.e., aging, the passing of time, family relationships, etc." - Marnie Colton

Other Reviewers
"[F]ull of fury and fragility and yet somehow anaemic... Even the passages where [Quintana] might have come to life are rendered needlessly brittle by Didion's stabbing, birdlike prose with its constant repetitions and exhortations such as 'Do note...' and 'Let me repeat...' Where the book is most successful - and most poignant - is in the viciously honest picture Didion draws of a lonely, encroaching old age." - The Guardian (UK)

"Essential reading for anyone who has ever mourned, has fretted as a parent, or simply loves good writing - that is, nearly all of us." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. 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." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Didion continually demonstrates her keen survival instincts, and her writing is, as ever, truculent and mesmerizing, scrutinizing herself as mercilessly as she stares down death." - Publishers Weekly

"...Didion is courageous in both her candor and artistry, ensuring that this infinitely sad yet beguiling book of distilled reflections and remembrance is graceful and illuminating in its blue musings." - Booklist

The information about Blue Nights shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Inez Star

Didion's Pretensions Turnoff
Absolutely, she knows how to write and absolutely has a worthy subject for introspection -- the death of her adopted daughter. But I must admit I couldn't get past her pretentious descriptions of places, literature, little cakes, whatever... Who cares? Surely, she gives her reading audience more credit or does she really think she's impressing?
I found it an obstacle -- or then again, maybe it wasn't if I had interpreted as a look into Didion's character.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Joan Didion Author Biography

Photo © 2003 Colleen Guaitolini

Joan Didion is the highly respected author of five novels, several non-fiction books (including Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Political Fictions), and five screenplays co-authored with her husband John Gregory Dunne (including A Star is Born and Up Close & Personal). Her chronicle of the year after her husband died, The Year of Magical Thinking won the 2005 National Book Award (USA). She was born in California and lives in New York City.

In 2007, Didion received the National Book Foundation's annual Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The same year, Didion also won the Evelyn F. Burkey Award from the Writers Guild of America. In 2009, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Harvard University.

On July 3, 2013 the White House announced Didion is one ...

... Full Biography

Other books by Joan Didion at BookBrowse
  • The Year of Magical Thinking jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more biography/memoir...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Marilou Is Everywhere
    Marilou Is Everywhere
    by Sarah Elaine Smith
    "The point is that at that moment in my life," writes the narrator of Sarah Elaine Smith's debut ...
  • Book Jacket: Let's Call It a Doomsday
    Let's Call It a Doomsday
    by Katie Henry
    However the world will end, Ellis Kimball is ready for it. Her obsessive stash of survivalist ...
  • Book Jacket: The Winemaker's Wife
    The Winemaker's Wife
    by Kristin Harmel
    Liv Kent's world is falling apart. After 12 years of marriage, her husband has decided he's done, ...
  • Book Jacket: On the Clock
    On the Clock
    by Emily Guendelsberger
    In her excellent debut, On The Clock, journalist Emily Guendelsberger thoughtfully examines the ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Secrets We Kept
    by Lara Prescott

    Reese Witherspoon's Sept Book Club Pick!
    "This is the rare page-turner with prose that’s as wily as its plot."—EW
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Yale Needs Women
    by Anne Gardiner Perkins

    A tale of courage in the face of arrogance that remains eerily relevant on U.S. campuses today.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Today We Go Home
by Kelli Estes

Illuminating and deeply human, Today We Go Home shines a light on the brave military women of the past and present.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Chase Darkness with Me

How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

S S A C A Big S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.