Little Night: A Novel

Little Night: A Novel

4.3 27
by Luanne Rice
     
 

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An emotionally gripping family drama from beloved New York Times bestseller Luanne Rice

Clare Burke’s life took a devastating turn when she tried to protect her sister, Anne, from an abusive and controlling husband and ended up serving prison time for assault. The verdict largely hinged on Anne’s defense of her spouse—all

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Overview

An emotionally gripping family drama from beloved New York Times bestseller Luanne Rice

Clare Burke’s life took a devastating turn when she tried to protect her sister, Anne, from an abusive and controlling husband and ended up serving prison time for assault. The verdict largely hinged on Anne’s defense of her spouse—all lies—and the sisters have been estranged ever since. Nearly twenty years later, Clare is living a quiet life in Manhattan as an urban birder and nature blogger, when her niece, Grit, turns up on her doorstep.

The two long for a relationship with each other, but they’ll have to dig deep into their family’s difficult past in order to build one. Together they face the wounds inflicted by Anne and find in their new connection a place of healing. When Clare begins to suspect her sister might be in New York, she and her niece hold out hope for a long-awaited reunion with her.

A riveting story about women and the primal, tangled family ties that bind them together, Little Night marks a milestone for Luanne Rice—the thirtieth novel from the author with a talent for creating stories that are "exciting, emotional, terrific" (The New York Times Book Review).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After bludgeoning her sister’s abusive husband with a burnt log, Clare Burke is whisked away to jail in the dramatic opening of Rice’s 30th novel (after Secrets of Paris). Based on Anne’s false testimony in defense of her husband, Clare serves two years for assault, the sisters become estranged, and the story picks up 18 years later in 2011 in New York City, where Clare is a blogger and birdwatcher. Though she’s never fully recovered from the trauma of her sister’s betrayal, Clare desperately wants to reconnect with Anne, who has since cut all ties with her family at the behest of her manipulative husband. But when Anne’s 21-year-old daughter, Grit, shows up on Clare’s doorstep seeking a family that loves her, Clare and her niece bond, though the subject of their common tie—Anne—is never far from either of their minds. The two support one another as they attempt to create a relationship and reconnect with the woman who hurt them. Poetic and stirring, Rice’s latest beautifully combines her love of nature and the power of family. Agent: Andrea Cirillo, the Jane Rotrosen Agency. (June 5)
Kirkus Reviews
A Manhattan ornithologist strives to heal the rift that has divided what is left of her family. Clare and her older sister Anne were always close, having grown up in a Chelsea brownstone with parents who kept secrets from each other and their daughters. But when Anne married a famous Danish glass blower, Frederik, he insisted she distance her own family. After a long silence, Clare goes to Anne's isolated country home, where she's welcomed by Anne and her children, Grit and Gilly. Bruises on Anne reveal abuse, confirmed by young Gilly, but when Frederik thwarts their escape and tries to strangle Anne, Clare hits him with a burning log from the fireplace. After Anne testifies against her, Clare goes to prison for two years. Almost 20 years later, Clare has rebuilt her life around her work as a birder and nature blogger, studying New York City's avian population. Her boyfriend, Paul, an Urban Park Ranger, is still in her life, but since she broke up with him (for his own good, she thought) while in prison, their relationship has remained tentative. When Grit shows up at Clare's apartment (in that very same childhood brownstone), Clare learns that Anne, who moved to Copenhagen with Frederik, has thoroughly identified with her captor. She has tolerated Frederik's physical and emotional abuse, not just of herself but of her son and daughter. Gilly commits a tragic act as a result, and Grit is disowned by her parents. Frederik is such an odious character that it is difficult to see how he managed to ensnare Anne in the first place--let alone keep her in his thrall. When Grit is hurt while filming in a bog, Clare leaves a message for Anne. A scent of violets and other clues indicate Anne may have heard the call. A new rendering of Rice's familiar themes of sisterhood and inherited dysfunction, which suffers from slapdash characterization but profits from a sure-handed depiction of the wilds of New York.
From the Publisher

Praise for LITTLE NIGHT:

“Poetic and stirring . . . beautifully combines [Rice’s] love nature and the power of family.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Best-selling author Rice’s 30th book is an outstanding read that both chills and warms the soul . . . highly recommended.”

Library Journal, starred review

“Never rushing her story or revelations, Rice reaches the satisfying conclusion that while wounds run deep, love runs deeper.”

Booklist

“A classic Rice page-turner.”

Good Housekeeping

“In Little Night, Rice plumbs the depths of the damage that physical and mental abuse cause the recipients and allows us into the heads of those who suffer these situations. In spite of the serious nature of the subject matter, the story is filled with happy moments and an undying hope for future happiness.”

Bookreporter.com

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670023561
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
06/05/2012
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,410,879
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.16(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

February 14, 1993

My hands are bandaged, but I’m not supposed to care that they hurt. When i was treated at the scene, the husky EMT said flatly, “He’s a lot worse off than you.” The police officer had to remove my handcuffs; he snapped on latex gloves to avoid having to touch my burned palms and wrists.

They drove me in a squad car to the East Hampton station house for booking, and finally into the sheriff’s van for the ride here to the county jail, fifteen miles away in Mashomuck.

I’ll tell you one detail because it’s frozen in my mind. The phrase “two to the head.” That’s what I’ve been hearing since the police arrived. “She gave him two to the head.” Then they laugh at me. it’s supposed to be a big joke about how inept Ii was.

This enormous, shaved-head bodybuilding sheriff acted it out for me in the van on the way here. “One,” he said, pretending to clobber the other sheriff over the head. “Two.” He imitated the second blow. Then, “Ouch,” he said as he waggled his fingers at me and winked nastily at my bandaged hands. “You burned yourself as bad as you hurt him, but he’s going to the hospital and you’re going to jail.”

I’d like to block his words out. They make this seem like any other crime, one of the salacious stories you see on CNN Headline news. To the outside i suppose all crimes are the same—someone attacks, another is injured. It’s only in a person’s mind and heart, only within the soul of any given family that the entire tender, brutal, surreal story makes any sense.

I say “family,” but it might only be me. i have three blood relatives in this world: Anne, my older and only sister, and her children, a niece and nephew i barely know because her husband has cut us off so thoroughly. Blood is one thing, but to be family, you need so much more.

This morning I’d reached my breaking point on that and taken the LIRR out east, unannounced, to show up with roses for Anne and books and Valentines for the kids. I chose late morning, when Frederik would be at his gallery. The day was bright blue but frigid, no humidity, a sharp wind whirling around Montauk Point.

i caught a cab from the station to their house on Old Montauk Highway. I was a wreck, thinking she’d slam the door in my face. But she didn’t—she let me in. Right now I can hardly stand the memory of seeing the shock and joy in her eyes, feeling our strong embrace, as if our lives in that instant had been reset, back to the time before him.

The children didn’t know who I was. They’re only three and five, and I last saw them all at my mother’s funeral a year ago, when Frederik had dragged the family away from the gravesite before Anne and I had a chance to console each other, or even speak.

For twenty minutes today we had a good time. The house was freezing; obviously the heat was turned way down. Anne, Gillis (“Gilly”), and Margarita (“Grit”) wore warm shirts and fleece pullovers. I kept my jacket on. We huddled around the hearth where two logs sparked with a dull glow; a third had barely caught, flames just licking the top edge.

The brass screen had been set aside, as if to keep the wire mesh from holding back the fading warmth. I glanced around for a poker, but saw nothing to stoke the fire. There didn’t seem to be any more wood either.

I was afraid to ask about the heat, or lack of it. Anything can trigger Anne, especially when it comes to Frederik. She might have taken my question as implied criticism of his ability or willingness to provide basic needs for his family. She’s very defensive about him. But the truth is, she’s always had a strange, secret side when it came to men. She puts them on pedestals, and then subverts them in ways they’d never guess.

I’ll confess something else: Anne and i had probably been the closest sisters on earth, but we have never been completely, one-hundred-percent easy with each other. i don’t believe Anne can be that way with anyone.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Praise for LITTLE NIGHT:

“Poetic and stirring . . . beautifully combines [Rice’s] love nature and the power of family.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Best-selling author Rice’s 30th book is an outstanding read that both chills and warms the soul . . . highly recommended.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Never rushing her story or revelations, Rice reaches the satisfying conclusion that while wounds run deep, love runs deeper.”
Booklist

“A classic Rice page-turner.”
Good Housekeeping

“In Little Night, Rice plumbs the depths of the damage that physical and mental abuse cause the recipients and allows us into the heads of those who suffer these situations. In spite of the serious nature of the subject matter, the story is filled with happy moments and an undying hope for future happiness.”
Bookreporter.com

Read More

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