Customer Reviews for

Nightwoods

Average Rating 4
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(27)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

18 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

a fast-paced character driven suspense thriller

Luce is a lonely woman who does not own the once luxurious but now abandoned North Carolina rustic Lodge where she has lived for three years by herself as its caretaker. With the death of elderly owner Stubblefield, she is not sure whether her late employer's worthless...
Luce is a lonely woman who does not own the once luxurious but now abandoned North Carolina rustic Lodge where she has lived for three years by herself as its caretaker. With the death of elderly owner Stubblefield, she is not sure whether her late employer's worthless grandson will allow her to stay on at the Lodge.

Luce has other problems with the recent murder of her sister Lily. She has no time for grief as the State has taken Lily's fraternal twin children to her since their stepdad stands trial for killing their mom. Luce has no idea how to deal with her grief stricken niece (Dolores) and nephew (Frank) especially since both are mute and out of control. Still she finds some solace in helping them adjust from arsonist wild animals to human kids. However, she is unaware that her brother-in-law Bud, acquitted of murdering his wife, is coming seeking hidden money he plans to find at any cost to others even his stepchildren. Nor does she know someone else is coming up the mountain with plans for the Lodge.

Nightwoods is a fast-paced character driven suspense thriller. The story line is superb when the focus is inside the minds of the three grievers at the Lodge. The plot loses some momentum of the anticipated confrontation when the protagonists speak like English Lit professors seeking a metaphor. Still this is a terrific tale as three lonely people struggle with the murder of the connecting loved one while the killer is coming.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on September 14, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

good news

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posted by deken on October 2, 2011

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a fast-paced character driven suspense thriller

    Luce is a lonely woman who does not own the once luxurious but now abandoned North Carolina rustic Lodge where she has lived for three years by herself as its caretaker. With the death of elderly owner Stubblefield, she is not sure whether her late employer's worthless grandson will allow her to stay on at the Lodge.

    Luce has other problems with the recent murder of her sister Lily. She has no time for grief as the State has taken Lily's fraternal twin children to her since their stepdad stands trial for killing their mom. Luce has no idea how to deal with her grief stricken niece (Dolores) and nephew (Frank) especially since both are mute and out of control. Still she finds some solace in helping them adjust from arsonist wild animals to human kids. However, she is unaware that her brother-in-law Bud, acquitted of murdering his wife, is coming seeking hidden money he plans to find at any cost to others even his stepchildren. Nor does she know someone else is coming up the mountain with plans for the Lodge.

    Nightwoods is a fast-paced character driven suspense thriller. The story line is superb when the focus is inside the minds of the three grievers at the Lodge. The plot loses some momentum of the anticipated confrontation when the protagonists speak like English Lit professors seeking a metaphor. Still this is a terrific tale as three lonely people struggle with the murder of the connecting loved one while the killer is coming.

    Harriet Klausner

    18 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Eloquent Prose

    Nightwoods main character, Luce, is the caretaker of an abandoned, decaying summer lodge on a lake in Appalachia. Frazier aptly describes a lodge in disrepair- a metaphor for the losses in Luce's life. But she is happy and at peace. Unconfined, her solitary life takes on an ethereal quality. Until the children. She took her murdered sister's children because the state said they would be separated if she didn't. The pyromaniac twins with a propensity for violence remind her in no way of her sweet departed sister. The "bad patch" they had been through was so devastating that they retreat into dark, secret places inside. One wonders how Luce musters the money and resourcefulness to care for the children after the shocking events of her own life. Luce is the driving force in the novel. She values her freedom and solitude. She has both mysticism and quiet strength about her. "What I want most is the ability to whistle the song of every bird in the area." Charles Frazier, author of Pulitzer Prize winner Cold Mountain, is a skilled wordsmith. The book is rich in description and the author casts a spell over us with Luce's character. Frasier's omission of the use of quotation marks is a mystery to this reviewer. Although we follow a circuitous route to figure out the story lines, the plodding plot comes together in the end. Nightwoods is aptly titled. The book is dark. Despite the violence wreaked upon humans, the peaceful and mysterious woods, home to soothing cricket sounds, hover over the book as a main character. Random House through Library Thing graciously supplied the review copy for my unbiased opinion. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    great read

    I was excited to read this book and was not disappointed. loved every minute reading it.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    Beautifully Written, Superb Storytelling

    I don't understand some of the criticisms i've read of Frazier's prose. His writing style paints vivid images of the characters, town and surrounding North Carolina mountains and accents the tight and precise narrative perfectly. Coming in under 250 pages, the descriptiveness doesn't add unnecessarily to the length of the book. The slow-burn creep factor within the tale envisions something along the lines of a Cohen brothers film. I recommend this book.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2011

    I loved it

    Charles Frazier writes beautifully about nature and people of nature. This was a wonderful story and the characters were well developed. I would love a sequel.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2012

    Outstanding

    Charles Frasier has become my favorite author and his latest does not disappoint. His previous novels, Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, were set in the 19th century south. This one is set in the mid-20th century, but readers will recognize the author's familiar and vivid descriptions of the southern landscape that are inherent in his latest. Once I picked it up I could not put it down...I highly recommend it.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    A beautiful dark story

    Gripping tale with superbly drawn characters, lyrical but simple writing, and a true sense of place.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2012

    Loved this!

    I really enjoyed this book and it is beautifully written.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Wonderful prose and a touching tale

    In Charles Frazier's Nightwoods, powerful human emotions are covered with beautiful prose and deep insight. Set in mid-twentieth century Appalachia, the story centers around a woman who has done her best to separate herself from the rest of society. When her sister is murdered and the two orphaned children are sent to live with her, she accepts them into her home with a sense of duty to her sister. The children change her whole world and she does her best to help them along their path. Human relationships past and present help in the telling of this suspenseful and touching tale.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    Enchanting!

    I love Charles Frasier's work, found this one very engaging. Riveting story, great characters.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

    Why why

    Why write all that and ruin it for every one y not say great book and maybbe say how many pages

    3 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2012

    Excellent

    I havent gotten this involved in a book for a long long time. Highly recommended!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful

    The first 2/3 of the book was a little slow, but the description of the environment was very good. It picks up - I am happy with how it ended.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Nightwoods

    Charles Frazier is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved this novel as much as I enjoyed Cold Mountain. Set in Appalahia during the early 1960s, Frazier uses vivid descriptions and various narrations to tell a mysterious story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2011

    Not that great

    This book was disappointing to me. While the plot was good and there was potential, I did not care for the way Frazier wrote it. He goes on and on with descriptions throughout the book, and most of the time I found myself getting impatient and wishing he would just get on with the story already! Most of the time he would go off on a tangent and it was tedious, almost painful, to read. And the way he developed the characters, it was like I was reading about them through a fog; I never quite really "knew" them. I ended up forcing myself to finish this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great writing about two children raised by their murdered mothers sister

    Another winner of a story by Charles Frazier that is completely different from his first book, Cold Mountain. This excellent story about two children that were very strange and were eventually turned over to Luce by the state to raise in the best way she could although Luce had no experience in raising children. The children, Dolores and Frank, were not normal young kids, not wishing to communicate with others verbally but if there was a way to get into trouble they were very able to "communicate" by doing that. Their mother had been murdered and there was no one else to raise them and keep them together. Luce was up for the challenge even though she had much to learn about almost everything, actions and education of children among those needs. She didn't own the lodge that she and the children moved in to. It was in general disrepair after past years of being a fancy lodging place for tourists. But now the three of them used mostly the first floor very seldom going upstairs to investigate what was up there. Luce had to be careful that the kids didn't go up there and get into trouble such as starting a fire, which they loved to do with most anything. Maddie lived nearby and they would sometimes walk to her house and visit, not knowing what Maddie would be doing or in what mood she might be on any visit. Bud was a bad man with a criminal record and a wicked history of prison and hurting or killing people and stealing most anything. Bud eventually married Luce's sister, Lily, which was a bad match for both of them and the children, who were fathered by another man. Bud could not stay out of trouble in the marriage and in the area. He loved to beat the kids. Luce was happy when Bud was away from the area either traveling or in prison. Bud cleaned out Luce's bank account and drove off robbing every person and business he came across. Luce did all she could to start the kid's education, teaching them everything she knew in her limited life. They would learn when they wanted to. Stubblefield was a local man who had inherited a decent size area of land and some buildings but he owed so much that he would have to rid himself of some of the inheritance. Lit was the local law. He gave Stubblefield instructions how to get to his land and what was on much of it. As he traveled he found Luce and the children in a home that was part of his inheritance. The distance between them finally became closer and they realized that they had known each other in school some years ago. Stubblefield found himself coming around to see them quite often until finally he would take walks with them and take them for a ride. Nothing serious between them occurred. Lit was buying "uppers" from Bud to keep himself awake and steady since he was getting older and felt he needed that stimulation. Meanwhile, without Luce realizing it, she and Stubblefield were getting chummy without the intimacy, even though he wished it would get to that point. I am not going to go any farther into the book, as I don't want to spoil the entire great story left in the book. You will enjoy the authors descriptive wording of the area, the characters, the events, nature, all of which combined with the story keep the reader very involved.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Loved it!

    Beautiful story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2011

    Disappointment

    I had high hopes for this book, but it didn't deliver at all. It was slow throughout and I kept hoping for it to pick up and get more interesting. But that was not to be and I had to force myself to finish it. I didn't find the characters interesting, either. About the only thing I enjoyed was the description of the mountains and countryside. Overall, it was a big disappointment and far from captivating.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A few life lessons are gleaned from a cast of well-drawn characters

    Sometimes you learn so much from the characters in a book, even the bad ones. In Nightwoods, the latest from Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier, the people that inhabit the pages crackle with life. As a master craftsman, Frazier gives just enough background information on each one fleshing them out and making them real. The novel revolves not so much around plot as in personality studies, observations on life and rhapsodic images of nature. With phrases like "dread filled the car like floodwater rising," Frazier's high level of perception sets his writing apart making him one of the finest American novelists working today.

    He transports the reader to an isolated, deteriorating lodge in the mountains of North Carolina circa the early 1960s. We find Luce, a young woman turned virtual hermit, as the caretaker of the abandoned building. Into her lap are dropped two children, her niece Delores and nephew, Frank, the twins of her late sister who was murdered by her husband, Bud. The children were abused by Bud and witnessed him killing their mother. Since these horrific events, they've become wild - slaughtering chickens with their bare hands - yet refusing to speak. Little do they know that Bud has followed them, waiting for the opportunity to silence them forever.

    While stressing respect for the past and the land, the novel delves into the dual themes of fire and blood. The children are obsessively drawn to the lure of an open flame. They become pyromaniacs setting fire to whatever lies in their path, even burning down a house. They seek solace in these desperate acts. As stated in the book, "You can't control everything that happens. All you control is your mind. Make it like the lake on a still day. Don't react any more than you can help, not to outsiders. Trust only the two of you all the way. Hoard up your love for each other and state your rage by way of things that want to burn."

    Their predator, Bud, on the other hand, sees things in terms of blood. He repeatedly cuts himself with his shark tooth necklace drawing the red liquid to the surface. He attacks Luce's boyfriend, Stubblefield, with a knife in a barroom bathroom brawl leaving the floor saturated. His view on life revolves around violence. His thoughts include, "Blood mattered above all else, the sacred shedding of it. The rest of Christ's life - his actions, his pithy sayings, his love - became incidental compared to the dark artery offering that covered the globe."

    Yet, he has a keen insight on life. In a telling passage, he states, "Pleasers never get paid back a fraction commensurate with their effort. Which goes along with one of the main rules in life. Which, unfortunately, has two parts. The a is, You got to get paid. A fine idea if it stopped right there. But the cruel b part is, You got to pay."

    Frazier leaves the conclusion of the novel open-ended. He doesn't settle things one way or the other. The ultimate fate is yet to be decided. Has the danger passed? Has it moved on? Will it be back? All that's certain is that Luce and Stubblefield will keep on doing the best they can for the children as they continue to form their own type of family unit. The only thing that's for sure is, in Frazier's words, "the landscape, which does not punish or reward but cleanses all bones equally."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    A Picturesque, a Romance, and Thriller in That Order

    NIGHTWOODS is always picturesque; or, perhaps, better characterized as cinematic. It's as if Frazier holds the camera he's been shooting with and invites us to peer into the viewer for scenes of North Carolina mountain country, scenes in the valleys, along the lakes, and up and down the mountains in the late days of summer and fall, and back in time, the way it was as the 50s decade closed. In these mountains and valleys live people. These people, the story's principals, have problems. Luce is wounded and living nearly as a hermit on the grounds of an old lodge, by herself and comfortable being so. Until the State of North Carolina deposits her murdered sister's twin children, Frank and Dolores, on her doorstep as her new charges. Following behind them comes her brother-in-law, Bud, acquitted of the stabbing death of Lilly by the graces of "a smart and ruthless old white-haired bastard" lawyer and a newly minted, dimwitted prosecutor. He believes the children possess loot he stole, loot in turn stolen from him by Lilly, loot he knifed her for in a fit of rage. Also, they witnessed the murder, and maybe he's done other things to them, and he fears that if they recover their powers of speech -- the children, as a result of the trauma, display autistic symptoms -- they will rat him out as a murderer and something worse. He takes over the local bootlegging business in the dry county and, unknown to him until later, befriends a runty, surly, alcoholic and pill-popping deputy who is the estranged father of Lilly and Luce. Later on, young Stubblefield, as opposed to old Stubblefield, proprietor of the lodge who has passed on as the novel opens, raises himself from his desolate life on the Gulf coast, returning home to claim his diminished inheritance, which he plans to dispose of, until he visits and sees Luce, who we through his eyes see in a new light. It's here that the story adds romance to picturesque and thriller. The summary gives the impression NIGHTWOODS is similar to a Jim Thompson tale; that is, gritty, raw, delicious literary pulp of the 50s. On the contrary, if a Thompson tale resembles the primordial Rocky Mountains, this Frazier tale reflects the smooth contours of the Great Smokey range. It's only after you've slowly trekked into the forest and gained altitude that you see how dangerous they can be. With regard to the novel, the trek is worth it. Some of what makes NIGHTWOODS rewarding are the ways in which Luce and Stubblefield grow into each other; how they fill each other's needs; how each casts off their pasts and emerge in the end as new people, lovers with challenging children. Then there is how Frazier immerses us in the place and time of the story, with lush descriptions of the locale and skillful references to artifacts of the times -- music, cars, food, and the like. Finally, without giving away the ending, there is a certain ambiguity at the conclusion that overlays the final moments of the family finally resting in the lodge, uneasily, the ambiguity allowing us to feel deeply their anxiety. If you like your thrillers rawer, then try Jim Thompson's THE KILLER INSIDE ME, Davis Grubb's THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, or David Valentino's I, KILLER.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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