by Charles Frazier


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Charles Frazier, the acclaimed author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, returns with a dazzling novel set in small-town North Carolina in the early 1960s. With his brilliant portrait of Luce, a young woman who inherits her murdered sister’s troubled twins, Frazier has created his most memorable heroine. Before the children, Luce was content with the reimbursements of the rich Appalachian landscape, choosing to live apart from the small community around her. But the coming of the children changes everything, cracking open her solitary life in difficult, hopeful, dangerous ways. In a lean, tight narrative, Nightwoods resonates with the timelessness of a great work of art.
“Impossible to shake.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Fantastic.”—The Washington Post
“Astute and compassionate.”—The Boston Globe

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812978803
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/12/2012
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 188,659
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Charles Frazier grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. Cold Mountain, his highly acclaimed first novel, was an international bestseller and won the National Book Award in 1997. His second novel, Thirteen Moons, was a New York Times bestseller and named a best book of the year by the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Raleigh, North Carolina

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Asheville, North Carolina


B.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; M.A., Ph.D., Appalachian State University

Read an Excerpt


LUCE'S NEW STRANGER CHILDREN were small and beautiful and violent. She learned early that it wasn't smart to leave them unattended in the yard with the chickens. Later she'd find feathers, a scaled yellow foot with its toes clenched. Neither child displayed language at all, but the girl glared murderous expressions at her if she dared ask where the rest of the rooster went.

The children loved fire above all elements of creation. A heap of dry combustibles delighted them beyond reason. Luce began hiding the kitchen matches, except the few she kept in the hip pocket of her jeans for lighting the stove. Within two days, the children learned how to make their own fire from tinder and a green stick bowed with a shoelace. Tiny cavemen on Benzedrine couldn't have made fire faster. Then they set the back corner of the Lodge alight, and Luce had to run back and forth from the spring with sloshing tin buckets to put it out.

She switched them both equally with a thin willow twig until their legs were striped pink, and it became clear that they would draw whatever pain came to them down deep inside and refuse to cry. At which point Luce swore to herself she would never strike them again. She went to the kitchen and began making a guilty peach pie.

LUCE WAS NOT MUCH MATERNAL. The State put the children on her. If she had not agreed to take them, they would have been separated and adopted out like puppies. By the time they were grown, they wouldn't even remember each other.

Though now that it was probably too late to go back, maybe that would have been a good thing. Separate them and dilute whatever weirdness they shared and ignited between them. Yet more proof, as if you needed it, that the world would be a better place if every-damn-body didn't feel some deep need to reproduce. But God in his infinite wisdom had apparently thought it was an entertaining idea for us to always be wanting to get up in one another.

Also, the children were here, and what was Luce to do? You try your best to love the world despite obvious flaws in design and execution. And you take care of whatever needy things present themselves to you during your passage through it. Otherwise you're worthless.

Same way with the Lodge. Luce didn't own it. She was the caretaker, sort of. Some would call her a squatter now that the old man was dead. But nobody else seemed interested in keeping it from growing over with kudzu until it became nothing but a green mound.

Back at the edge of the previous century, the Lodge had been a cool summer retreat for rich people escaping the lowland steam of August. Some railroad millionaire passing through the highland valley in his own railcar had a vision, or possibly a whim, to build an earthen dam, back the river up, fill the upper end of the valley with water right to the edge of the village. Then, on the far side, build a log lodge of his own design, something along the lines of the Old Faithful Inn, though smaller and more exclusive. He must have been a better railroad executive than architect, because what he built was a raw outsized rectangle, a huge log cabin with a covered porch looking down a sweep of lawn to the lake and across the water to the town. Evidently, rich people were satisfied by simpler things in the yesteryears.

Now the millionaires and the railroad were gone. But the lake remained, a weird color-shifting horizontal plane set in an otherwise convoluted vertical landscape of blue and green mountains. The Lodge persisted as well, a strange, decaying place to live in alone, though. The main floor was taken up by the common rooms, a voluminous lobby with its massive stone fireplace and handsome, backbreaking Craftsman armchairs and settles, quarter-sawn oak tables and cabinets. A long dining room with triple-hung, lake-view windows and, behind swinging doors, a big kitchen with a small table where the help once crowded together to eat leftovers. Second floor, just narrow hallways and sleeping chambers behind numbered six-panel doors with transom windows. Third floor, way up under the eaves, a dark smothering rabbit warren of windowless servants' quarters.

WHEN SHE LIVED ALONE, Luce didn't go to the upper floors often, but not out of fear. Not really. It was little but bedsteads and cobwebs up there, and she didn't want to believe in ghosts or anything similar. Not even the portents of bad dreams. Yet the fading spirit world touched her imagination pretty strong when she was awake at three in the morning, alone in the big place. The dark sleeping floors, with their musty transient pens and cribs for the guests and their help, spooked her. The place spoke of time. How you're here and then you're gone, and all you leave for a little while afterward are a few artifacts that outlive you.

Case in point, old Stubblefield, who had owned the Lodge for the past few decades. Luce visited him several times during his dying days, and she was there at the end to watch the light go out of his eyes. In the final hours, Stubblefield mostly cataloged his possessions and listed who should get what. His concerns were largely real estate, all his holdings to go to his sole useless grandson. Also a few valuable objects, such as his dead wife's silver service and lace tablecloth, perfect but for a slight rust stain at one corner. Barely noticeable. The silver candleholders were a heavy weight on Stubblefield's mind because his wife had loved them so much. Oddly, he left them to Luce, who didn't love them at all and probably never would.

Easy to be disdainful and ironic toward others' false values. Still, Luce hoped that when she was at the same thin margin of life she would be concerned with looking out the window to note the weather or the shape of the moon or some lone bird flying by. Certainly not a bunch of worn-out teaspoons. But Luce was half a century younger than old Stubblefield, and didn't know how she'd think and what she would value if she made it that far down the road. All her life, the main lesson Luce had learned was that you couldn't count on anybody. So she guessed you could work hard to make yourself who you wanted to be and yet find that the passing years had transformed you beyond your own recognition. End up disappointed in yourself, despite your best efforts. And that's the downward way Luce's thoughts fell whenever she went upstairs into the dreary past.

BEFORE THE CHILDREN, Luce had learned that after dark she'd best keep to the communal lobby, with its fireplace and mildew-spotted furniture and tall full bookshelves and huge floor-standing radio with a tuning ring like the steering wheel to a Packard. She dragged a daybed from a screened sleeping porch to form a triangle of cozy space with the hearth and the radio to make herself a bedroom. The bookshelves held a great many well-read old novels and a set of Britannicas, complete but for a couple of volumes in the middle of the alphabet. Also, nearby, a Stickley library stand with an unabridged 1913 Webster's. The places where you naturally put your hands on the soft binding were stained dark, so that all you could figure was that decades of guests finished a greasy breakfast of sausage biscuits and then right away needed to look up a word.

At bedtime, lamps out, the rest of the big room faded into darkness, only the fire and the radio's tubes sending a friendly glow up the nearby log walls. Luce finally fell asleep every night listening to WLAC out of Nashville. Little Willie John, Howlin' Wolf, Maurice Williams, James Brown. Magic singers proclaiming hope and despair into the dark. Prayers pitched into the air from Nashville and caught by the radio way up here at the mountain lake to keep her company.

Also good company on clear nights, the lights of town. Yellow pinpoints and streaks reflecting on the shimmer of black lake water. One advantage of the village being over there on the other side was the proximity of people as the crow flies, but no other way. By car, it took the better part of an hour to go around the back side of the lake and across the dam and around the shore to town.

The distance seemed shorter when Luce first got to the Lodge, due to a rowboat she found in one of the outbuildings. Town became only twenty minutes away. But the boat was rotting and loose-jointed, and on her first few trips across, she spent as much time bailing with a saucepan as rowing. And she was not much of a swimmer, at least not good enough to make it to either shore from the middle. She dragged the boat up onto the shoreline and let it dry for a few days, and then one evening at dusk, she poured a cup of kerosene on it and burned it. Flames rose chest-high, their reflections reaching across the still water toward town.

After that, when she had been alone for too many days, she walked the half mile to Stubblefield's house, and the half mile farther to Maddie's, and the mile farther to the little country store, where you could buy anything you wanted as long as it was bologna and light bread and milk, yellow cheese and potted meat, and every brand of soft drink and candy bar and packaged snack cake known to man. A four- mile round-trip just to sit in a chair outside the store for a half hour and drink a Cheerwine and eat a MoonPie and observe other human beings. She always carried a book, though, in case she needed to read a few pages to avoid unwanted conversation.

The past Fourth of July, Luce sat on the porch of the Lodge drinking precious brown liquor from the basement and watching tiny fireworks across the water. Bursts that must have filled the sky in town became bubbles of sparks about as big as a fuzzy dandelion at arm's length. As they began fading to black, the distant boom and sizzle finally reached the Lodge. Friday nights in the fall, light from the football field glowed silver against the eastern sky. A faint sound like an outbreath when the home team scored a touchdown. Every Sunday morning, distant church bells from the Baptists and Methodists tinkled like ice cubes in a glass, and a saying of her mother's always crossed Luce's mind: thirst after righteousness. Which Lola used as a Sabbath toast, raising a tall Bloody Mary and a freshly lit Kool in the same hand only minutes after the bells woke her.

THE DAY THE CHILDREN came was high summer, the sky thick with humidity and the surface of the lake flat and iron blue. On the far side, mountains layered above the town, hazing upward in shades of olive until they became lost in the pale gray sky. Luce watched the girl and boy climb out of the backseat of a chalky-white Ford sedan and stand together, square to the world. Not really glaring, but with a manner of looking at you and yet not at you. Predatory, with their eyes very much in the fronts of their faces and scoping their surroundings for whatever next prospect might present itself, but not wanting to spook anybody. Not yet. Foxes entering henhouses, was the way Luce saw it.

They sported new clothes the State had given them. A blue cotton print dress and white socks and white PF Flyers for the girl. A white cotton shirt and stiff new blue jeans and black socks and black PF Flyers for the boy. Both children had hair the color of a peanut shell, standing ragged on their heads as if the same person had done the cuts in a hurry, with only the littlest regard to gender.

Luce said, Hey there, you two twins.

The children didn't say anything, nor even look at her or at each other.

-Hey, Luce said, a little louder. I'm talking to you.


Luce looked at their faces and saw slight concern for themselves or anybody else. They sent out expressions like they sure didn't want you to mess with them, but maybe they wanted to mess with you. She went to the back of the car, where the man from the State was unloading a couple of cardboard boxes from the trunk. He set them on the ground and touched the smaller box with the toe of his loafer.

-Their clothes, he said. And that other one is your sister's. Personal items.

Luce hardly glanced down from looking at the kids. She said, What's the matter with them?

-Nothing much, the man said. He thumbed the wheel to a Zippo and lit a smoke and seemed tired from the long drive. Ten hours.

-Something's the matter with them, Luce said.

-They've been through a bad patch.

-A what?

Luce stood and waited while the man took a drag or two, and then she broke in on his smoking and said, You're the one that collects a salary from the State to do this job, but you can't even talk straight. Bad patch.

The man said, One doctor thought they might be feebleminded. Another one said it's just that they saw what they saw, and they've been yanked out of their lives and put in the Methodist Home for the time it took to sort things out. The father's legal matters.

-He's not their father. They're orphans.

-It took time to figure that kind of thing out. We got used to certain wording.

-And Johnson? Luce said.

-The trial's coming up, and they'll convict him. Sit him in the big wood chair with the straps and drop the tablet in the bucket. It fizzes up, and pretty soon he chokes out. Immediate family gets an invitation.

-To watch?

-There's a thick glass porthole, tinged like a fishbowl full of dirty water. If there's a crowd, you have to take turns. It's the size of a dinner plate. Pretty much one at a time.

-Count me in, Luce said.

She watche


A letter from Charles Frazier about his new novel, NIGHTWOODS - September 27th, 2011

Lost in the woods. A dangerous phrase, but also with a resonance of folktale. Hansel and Gretel with their bread crumbs. Jack alone, roaming the lovely, dark, and deep southern mountains. So, young people and old people being lost in the woods has always been interesting to me for those reasons. And also because it happens all the time still.

Back when I was a kid, eight or ten, my friends and I lived with a mountain in our backyards. We stayed off it in summer. Too hot and snaky. But in the cool seasons, we roamed freely. We carried bb guns in the fall and rode our sleds down old logging roads in winter. We often got lost. But we knew that downhill was the way out, the way home. When I grew up and went into bigger mountains, you couldn't always be so sure. I remember being lost in Bolivia. Or let's say that I grew increasingly uncertain whether I was still on the trail or not. That's the point where you ought to sit down and drink some water and consult your maps and compass very carefully and calmly. I kept walking. At some point, it became a matter of rigging ropes to swing a heavy pack over a scary white watercourse. I ended up at a dropoff. Down far below, upper reaches of the Amazon basin stretched hazy green into the distance. Downhill did not at all seem like the way home.

You'll just have to trust me that this has something to do with my new novel, but to go into it much would risk spoilers. I'll just say that early on in the writing of Nightwoods, Luce and the children were meant to be fairly minor characters, but I kept finding myself coming back to them, wanting to know more about them until they became the heart of the story. Some of my wanting to focus on them was surely influenced by several cases of kids lost in the woods in areas where I'm typically jogging and mountain biking alone at least a hundred days a year. It's part of my writing process, though I hardly ever think about work while I'm in the woods. But I do I keep obsessive count of how many miles a day I go and how many words I write, lots of numbers on 3x5 notecards. All those days watching the micro changes of seasons can't help but become part of the texture of what I write, and those lost kids, too.


1. Luce's strategy for dealing with her troubled past is to withdraw from her community, her emotions, and in some sense from life itself. Does Luce find this an effective coping mechanism for dealing with trauma? How does it help her, and how does it hurt her? In our digital world, is it still possible for someone to withdraw in this way?
2. Luce feels obligated to care for her sister's children even though she admits she is not a maternal person and does not love the children. Discuss this choice. How is Luce's sense of obligation informed by her relationship with her own mother and father?
3. Think about Luce's connection to her elder friends. What is it about Luce that draws her toward Maddie, old Stubblefield, and her grade school teachers?
4. Think about the scene in which Luce tells Lit about the rape. Is he only being insensitive and rude, or is there a part of him that is actually trying to protect Luce from more pain and disruption, albeit in an insensitive way?
5. Luce and Stubblefield are alike in some ways, and in others they are very different. Why do you think they are attracted to each other? Discuss which character changes the most over the course of the novel.
6. Discuss the children, and their eccentric and violent behavior. Are they misunderstood? Mentally or emotionally disturbed? How do they function as a narrative engine? In today's environment, a caretaker of these children would probably look for some kind of diagnosis. Apart from abuse, think about what might drive the kids' behavior that may have been misunderstood in the early 1960s. What are the challenges of raising children without the medical or psychiatric support we take for granted today?
7. Bud and Lit manage to form an unlikely bond. What is Bud looking for in Lit? And what is Lit looking for in Bud? What draws the two men apart, and ultimately leads to Lit's death?
8. Blood is a prominent symbol in Nightwoods. How does the metaphor of blood affect your interpretation of the story, and how does it shape Bud's confused worldview?
9. The beautifully rendered Appalachian landscape plays a central role in Nightwoods. Is the landscape merely a setting for the story? Or is it something more? A symbol? A kind of character? And what do you think the giant pit in the woods represents?
10. In the end, Luce opens up to Stubblefield and accepts that he intends to be a permanent fixture in her life. The children also seem to have accepted him. What do you think of this unlikely, cobbled-together family? What does it say about what makes a family? Will they be successful in making each other whole again?
11. What do you think happened to Bud? Does he continue to represent a threat to Luce, Stubblefield, and the kids?

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Nightwoods 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 118 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
nyauthoress More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
lordofbooks More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read this book and was not disappointed. loved every minute reading it.
TrailWanderer More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gripping tale with superbly drawn characters, lyrical but simple writing, and a true sense of place.
LiterarylionSB More than 1 year ago
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.
JavaQueenLG More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and it is beautifully written.
anne40 More than 1 year ago
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.
ChrisWCW More than 1 year ago
I love Charles Frasier's work, found this one very engaging. Riveting story, great characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent gotten this involved in a book for a long long time. Highly recommended!
CYVH More than 1 year ago
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.
pln56 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 5 months ago
great characters, I felt I was there and experiencing it myself by his description . Loved it!!
Anonymous 10 months ago
MayaP on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's nothing very original about this story of a killer on the loose and looking for revenge in a small town in the North Carolina woods, it's Charles Frazier's genius with words that lifts it above the ordinary. The story is so slight it could quite easily have been told in three hundred words - it takes Frazier 272 pages and still leaves you hungry for more. The language is incandescent, there's not a single paragraph that needs more telling, or less, each sentence seems tightly and beautifully wrought, each paragraph perfectly polished. An ostensibly simple story of love and revenge, told on a multitude of levels. In my opinion, this is as close to perfection as storytelling gets.
pdebolt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the writing in this book. The descriptions of Frazier's beloved North Carolina Appalachian mountain regions are breathtaking and vivid. Luce, the heroine, is a recluse living with the owner's permission in an abandoned hunting lodge. She is portrayed in haunting prose that makes her very real. When her murdered sister's two children come to live with her, she is forced to relinquish tranquility to take care of these almost-feral twins. Her sister's murderer is Luce's brother-in-law, exonerated in an unlikely scenario. At this point, there is a battle of good vs. evil that is reminiscent of an old-time western when the damsel in distress is aided by a newly-introduced suitor to outwit the "bad guy" who is in a desperate search for the money that he thinks the children can access. This novel is, for me, long on style and short on substance. I thought the plot was thin and the characters stereotypical with the exception of Luce. Maybe I shouldn't be as disappointed as I am with the plot and should just acknowledge the beautiful writing, but I probably wouldn't have finished it had I not received it as an ER book.
readaholic12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Steeped in place and history, rich in characters, perspective and story, Nightwoods by Charles Frazier is a suspenseful, engaging and enlightening read. I admit to some bias as a reader very familiar and enamored with the mountains of North Carolina, and one who loves a strong female character, but I believe this novel is an exceptional piece of writing told in a unique and talented voice. I marked dozens of passages to reread the insightful prose and revisit the symbolism, philosophy and poetry in the author's words. Though not nearly as bleak as Cormack McCarthy's The Road, there is a similarity in sparseness in grammar and punctuation that contributes to the story, as well as a sense of inevitability comingled with hope and despair that permeates the pages. I was equally reminded of Amy Bloom's stunning novel Away, as both works feature exquisite style, an indifferent landscape that is as much character as setting, and a testament to the lengths a human will travel in the name of love. Bloom's Lillian believes that we live and we love the world, and we kid ourselves that the world loves us back. Luce's philosophy is sweet and simple: the natural world would go on and on just fine whether you watched it or not. Your existence was incidental. It is clear that Charles Frazier pays attention to the world around him, and in his writing he bears witness to its benign beauty.I highly recommend reading Nightwoods for the story, the prose and the talented craftsmanship Frazier draws upon to create this work of art.
karieh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is an all encompassing quiet that muffles ¿Nightwoods¿. Perhaps it is due to the remote location of much of the story. Perhaps it comes from the detached nature of the main characters. Or maybe it comes from the overwhelming presence of Nature¿and the sense that regardless of the human drama that takes place in the story, Nature will eventually reclaim these woods and restore balance. The main character, Luce, seems to grasp this instinctually, and she accepts her minor role in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes she seems far older than she is, because of this and because of all that she has gone through in her life. ¿That night in bed, WLAC playing low and not helping much, Luce couldn¿t sleep for thinking about the black hole. She didn¿t spend a second wondering what creatures live down there. One look and she knew nothing lived there. Life would only be in the way. The black hole was before life and beyond life. If you dipped a ladle of that water and drank it, visions would come so dark you wouldn¿t want to live in the world that contained them. You¿d be ready to flee toward the other darkness summed up in death, which is only distant kin to the black hole and the liquid it cups. A darkness left over from before Creation. A reminder of the time before light. Before these woods and these mountains and the earth and even the sun, there was a black hole filled with black water. The black held no reference to the green world around it. And what did the green world mean if the black was and forever had been?¿ The visuals in the book are amazing. Naturally, the descriptions of the woods are the most breathtaking, but even simple interior scenes are described in such a way that the reader can see and smell everything around. ¿Luce hadn¿t been there since childhood, and yet not even the placement of the candy jar on the mantel had changed. The kind of place where antimacassars draped the backrests of purple velvet chairs, the seat cushions buffed to a pale silver nub by many decades of buttocks dating back nearly to the Grant administration. Bookcases everywhere, filled with leather Miltons and Burnses and Tennysons inscribed on the endpapers with the beautiful looping handwriting of dead people.¿ This is not to say that nothing happens in ¿Nightwoods¿. Far from it. The most heinous of human sins take place in these woods, in this small town. ¿Hours into the climb, scenery loses its attraction. It¿s nothing but ten feet of dirt and leaves in front of his aching feet. Bud is bored and thinking about violence, but trying not to, because violence is best accomplished spur-of-the-moment. Let it happen out of nowhere. Anything else, and you go from being a hothead manslaughterer to nothing but a cold first-degree murderer. Act with great purity ¿ like there¿s no past and no future, nothing but the red right now ¿ and there¿s a degree of innocence to it, no matter how heinous and bloody the outcome.¿ There is a heroine, a villain, and many people in between. And yet even then, there is a sense of quiet. Quiet desperation, quiet grief, quiet hopelessness. The emotions are strong, the actions are fierce¿but the results seem to be muffled over time. ¿Nightwoods¿ is a series of terrible events in the lives of its human inhabitants, but the reader closes the book that over time, all will be smoothed over and resume its place in the stillness of this eternal forest.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the third book from Frazier and his knowledge and love for the North Carolina mountains shines through in his writing. Luce is alone and enjoys it for the most part, she is free to wander through the woods, read whenever she wants and seeks company only when lonely. When her sister is murdered she becomes the guardian of her sisters 2 children who do not speak and have an unhealthy interest in fires and starting them. Shell shocked from the witnessing of their mothers murder, they are exceedingly strange but Luce does her best to teach them and take care of them. Into this mix comes the murderer of her sister, her live in partner, who wants only to find the children and a possible clue to what their mother did with his illicit gained money. Also comes a love interest, the heir of the old boarding house Luce stayed on at as caretaker after the death of the owner. Interesting story, strong parts are the descriptions of nature with with Luce entertains and teaches the children, and Luce herself..
BAP1012 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another beautiful book by Charles Frazier. This book is about a self-exiled woman named Luce who has the care of her young niece and nephew thrust upon her when her sister is murdered by her husband. The children's stepfather is out to find them believing the children have taken his valuables. The story is set in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1960s. Frazier crafts this novel - it's as if each word is carefully chosen. Vivid images for each scene come through and his clever turns of phrase never stop delighting me. I enjoyed Cold Mountain tremendously but it wasn't until Thirteen Moons that I really came to understand just how talented he is. I was absolutely delighted to receive Nightwoods through the Early Readers program. Although I signed up for others, this is the ONE I wanted and I was not disappointed. Thank you LT!
mikedraper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Nightwoods," tells the story of the hardships of living in Appalachia in North Carolina in the 1960s. Luce lives by herself in an old lodge that was built as a summer retreat. When the owner died, she took it upon herself to act as caretaker.She inherits her murdered sister's twins. She feels that she had no other choice since the alternative would be to have the twins split up and palced in adoption agencies.This is an example of Naturalism in literature when heredity and the character's environment predetermine the course of action for the character with little that the character could do to change their outcome.Bud is the children's father and a cold blooded killer. He reminded me of the wonderful character Anton Chiguth from "No Country for Old Men."As his path and that of Luce and the twins begins to converge, the suspense mounts and the book is hard to put down.Charles Frazier is a wonderful author and this novel reaffirms his place as one of the best novelists working today.