The extraordinary author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons returns with a dazzling new novel of suspense and love set in small-town North Carolina in the early 1960s.
Charles Frazier puts his remarkable gifts in the service of a lean, taut narrative while losing none of the transcendent prose, virtuosic storytelling, and insight into human nature that have made him one of the most beloved and celebrated authors in the world. Now, 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.
Charles Frazier is known for his historical literary odysseys, and for making figures in the past come vividly to life. Set in the twentieth century, Nightwoods resonates with the timelessness of a great work of art.
From the Hardcover edition.
©2011 Charles Frazier (P)2011 Random House Audio
PRAISE FOR CHARLES FRAZIER: “Natural-born storytellers come along only rarely. Charles Frazier joins the ranks of that elite cadre on the first page of his astonishing debut.” (Newsweek on Cold Mountain)
“Prose filled with grace notes and trenchant asides ... a Whitmanesque foray into America: into its hugeness, its freshness, its scope and its soul ... such a memorable book.” (The New York Times Book Review on Cold Mountain)
“Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details - he has a scholar’s command of the physical realities of early America and a novelist’s gift for bringing them to life.” (Time on Thirteen Moon)
I absolutely love Fraizer's style of writing and Patton's narration. I found myself rewinding to hear passages over again because I was totally charmed. Listening to this book, I recall long gone relatives, who had a winking way of saying things that bespoke an intelligence that might not have been immediately apparent to outsiders, until they let go with a quip that summed up a person or situation perfectly. Fraizer deftly captures that dry humor and eloquence in the characters that populate this story, and Patton's delivery is flawless. Yes, It's a little dark but never gratuitously gruesome or especially difficult. In fact, I like the way that certain unpleasant things were implied and not dished out in detail. Also, part of why I love this book (and Fraizer's other books), is that the NC mountains are dear to me, and I can't get enough of his descriptions of the the mystery and beauty of the place, and the ways of the people, that have all but vanished.
A quiet, unassuming story beautifully told in typical Frazier style. Details are so clear one can almost feel the moss crunch underfoot. I found the characters to be real and true for the time period and location.
The setting is the quiet Appalachian landscape in the 1950s. The author offers his readers a most captivating, often poignant portrayal of Luce, the young woman who unexpectedly inherits her sister's troublesome, emotionally scarred twins. Hers is a battle of wits with her sister's husband whom she suspects is her sister’s killer - as she seeks to protect the children from him. Her only friends are the unassuming Stubblefield who becomes protector to her and the children and Mattie the mountain woman of indeterminate age.
I loved this as much as I loved Cold Mountain. Charles Frazier is a wonderful storyteller, and Will Patton's performance fits nicely with the style of Frazier's writing. Got lost in the story many times with this one. On the hunt for more Frazier and Patton now. Highly recommend both.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
This was storytelling at its finest, but definitely not of the cozy feel-good tale telling. Nightwoods is a stripped down taut drama of the conflict of characters trying to get by in spite of earlier life traumas and/or disappointments, and finding that they have much more in store for them.
The drama is not melodrama – Frazier spins out the story with hushed restraint, using his descriptive powers to create the atmosphere of the small town and mountain surroundings with clarity, but letting us know the characters by their actions and very little dialogue. He only gives physical descriptions of certain characters, such as Litt and Bud, as their physical presence is important to who they are. On the other hand, it’s difficult to envision Luce and Stubblefield physically, because they seem to hide within themselves. I was captivated by Luce’s patient and sensible means of drawing out her traumatized niece and nephew, her determination to keep them safe from further harm. Stubblefiend is likewise patient in drawing Luce out of her deep distrust of strangers in general and men in particular, appreciating that her strength is even more appealing than the crush he had on her as a teenager. Bud is dangerously charming, hiding his violence to achieve his greedy goals, and Litt is an enigma, revealing little of his thoughts, but containing a violence of his own that could explode at any time. At the center of the story is are Dolores and Frank – the traumatized mute twins lost in their own world, clinging only to each other and acting out their damage with fire and destruction. How can Luce protect them from themselves as well as from outside danger?
The restraint Frazier uses in unraveling the story adds tension and suspense and Will Patton’s clear straightforward reading is the perfect voice to capture the dark and fearful atmosphere. This was a book that drew me in from the beginning and never let go until the end.
Frazier’s use of language and ability to tell a story makes for the perfect audiobook in Nightwoods. His sense of place and time captures the listener’s attention and thoughts. As with his other books, you can see that he has researched the time period and the subject matter. His description of children suffering from post traumatic shock is both accurate and sympathetic. By the end of the book, the listener is actively engaged in the plot and understanding of the well-developed characters, those we love and hate. As a person from North Carolina, his use of words and the wonderful narration of Will Patton rings with authenticity. Perhaps if Randy Boyagoda who reviewed Nightwoods for the NY Times had listened to the book he would have better appreciated Frazier’s use of language. I highly recommend this book.
I love the narration of Will Patton, and I enjoyed this story. The cast was an interesting/mixed lot, yet I wished for more insight into the kid's minds....of course, this was what Luce wanted, too, so I get it. This was a good audio listen, and I could see the "film" in my head. Imperfect characters, a rambling old lodge in the woods and canned good dinners - this is a perfect slice of Southern Fried Goth.
Great writing, great story, great narration. Maybe a bit 'simpler' than his other books, but more was not needed. Just perfect and a pleasure to listen to.
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I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this author writing in a different time period. He is an expeet at evoking the feeling of an area and people. Add to this an intriguing story a delightful narrator and its a five star listen
Maybe I just love Will Patton, but I could listen to him tell me a story forever. I really liked this audiobook. Good story.
Avid listener on my daily commute!
...But Chapter 2 is a 6-star listen as a stand-alone short story (I replayed it for my husband, my kids, and my friends), so this is not a book to be missed! I've never heard a more lean, taught, suspenseful, beautiful, mesmerizing or more perfectly narrated tale. The narrator is beyond exceptional; this performance easily surpasses the likes of Finty Williams, Hope Davis, or Caroline Lee, and ranks with those of Alan Rickman and Meryl Streep. My only complaints are with the story. The author did three things I didn't like: he withheld key pieces of information from the reader, like the relationships between main characters (causing me to have to rewind frequently to see if I had missed something--though I never had); he left out key scenes (e.g., the penultimate confrontation between Bud and the children in the forest); and he left several key issues unresolved at the end of the novel, an ending which felt less than fully satisfying.
Nonetheless, don't let this one pass you by. It's unforgettable. I'm sure I will listen many more times.
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