“The secret, they say, is to not regret—but that, I have found, is impossible. The most one can hope for is to forget.” Wylie Rose subsists on memories. They are his food, his religion, his constant focus. Not just any memories—only ones of Cesca Bonet, a beautiful young girl he first encounters at age 10. Daughter of the affluent Bonet family, Cesca spent her summers at the family home in East Hampton, where she and Wylie briefly met during a round of childhood games with her siblings. Wylie, shy and introverted, was immediately enamored with Cesca’s magnetic charm and fearless nature. To him, she was perfect, even at such a young age.
Years pass before Wylie crosses paths with the Bonet family again. Throughout his adolescence, he romanticizes the idea of a life with Cesca, hoping for an opportunity to see her. It isn’t until Cesca’s grandfather’s 80th birthday party that his opportunity arrives. After brooding over every possible scenario, 16-year-old Wylie spots college-aged Cesca at the party, even more luminous and sensual than he remembered. However, Cesca barely looks in his direction, providing an opportunity for him to bond with her younger brother, Aurelio, a free-spirited painter. The two boys bond share an interest in art, and Aurelio agrees to foster Wylie’s artistic ambitions. As the night continues, Cesca finally acknowledges Wylie, entertained by his innocence and youthful modesty. Sparks quickly ignite, leading to a night of unexpected passion that will change their lives forever.
From Paris to Barcelona to New York, Girl in the Moonlight takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through the complicated lives of Wylie, Cesca and the Bonet family. Much like author Charles Dubow’s first novel, Indiscretion, the setting feels very Gatsby-que, full of summer parties and depictions of New York social life. Narrated by protagonist Wylie, the story does not offer one big climax, but instead small explosions throughout, keeping the reader guessing from chapter to chapter. Dubow’s second novel is a passionate story that explores the capacity of love—and its unyielding ability to control us.