Many years ago, during a hiatus between his early more conventional novels and his later inventive novels, Nicholas Mosley wrote books that directly treated religion and philosophy, attempting in them to find a way of speaking about religion in a contemporary method that would allow for a religious attitude that was at once sincere and ironic, a difficult balancing act that led to such remarkable novels as Accident, Impossible Object, Natalie Natalia, and finally to his Catastrophe Practice series that culminated in his Whitbread Award-winning novel Hopeful Monsters.
In Children of Darkness and Light, Mosley takes on what for most novelists has been the most challenging of subjects: a novel directly concerned with religious belief. A middle-aged, burnt-out journalist is sent to the north of England to do a story about the possible appearance of the Blessed Virgin to a group of children, though this may be a rumor initiated by the government to cover up a nuclear disaster. Or both.
Out of such conflicting possibilities, Mosley invents a sinister world where nothing is what is seems to be. And as Mosley’s narrator moves through the possibilities of half-truths, lies, conspiracies, and betrayals, he himself creates a parallel crisis in his personal life wherein he and his wife are trying to destroy their marriage or save it, or—as we come to expect in Mosley novels—do both at once. And behind all this is the possibility that the narrator—half philosopher and half would-be saint—is little more than a middle-aged man trying to justify his irresponsibility and infidelity behind a shield of wit and irony.