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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Molly
  • Charleston, SC, United States
  • 10-20-11

Beautiful writing and powerful narration

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.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Kaye
  • Birmingham, Al
  • 10-08-11

Nightwoods

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.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Charles Frazier is a magician.

The reviewers seem to be people who are already very serious fans. If you have heard Cold Mountain, then I suspect that you are too. The combination of Frazier and Will Patton is so intensely pleasurable that few others come close. Frazier is an author whose writing is so totally fine that he can keep you happily held for hours by a book that has almost no plot. His ability to describe the surroundings of his story rivals James Lee Burke's. You feel like you are there. Luce is the sister of murdered Lily. She inherits Lily's two seriously traumatized kids, Dolores and Frank, who are almost without speech, but not with each other. Luce is isolated in her small community in the Appalachian Mountains. She has a couple of friends, both of whom are her fierce supporters in the upbringing of these two very difficult kids. Stubblefield (does he have a first name?) is her landlord, friend and admirer from high school, and suitor on tenterhooks. She is so determined to be alone that she can only tolerate a jar of honey or some flowers that he has picked as gifts, even though she clearly sees his deep infatuation with her. Maddie (does she have a last name?) is also her friend, but not suitor. Maddie has a beaten-down "pony" by which the kids are mesmerized; the horse is a perfect pacifier for the kids, allowing her to have a couple of hours with Stubblefield, almost like a regular grownup who is allowed to have her own life. We gladly follow her wherever she goes, which ain't far.
If you listen carefully you will find that Mr. Frazier slips in a line of poetry or two with no notice, no attention paid to it, unlike many authors who are so very proud of themselves for what they do. Even when the writing is not literally poetic, you can frequently feel a rhythm to it, something that holds you as some music does. This is hard to explain, and for most authors utterly impossible even to dream of, but Mr. Frazier just calmly slides it in, just part of the deal. It is amazing.
Will Patton is the supreme voice for writing this fine. He communicates so many emotions with so many skills that one has trouble turning the story off. He can portray every human feeling that you can think of. Over the past ten years or so he has risen above the remainder of narrators to become just about #1 for me, with perhaps the only company being Edoardo Ballerini.
These men are artists. It is a pure pleasure like no other to discover the extent of the talents of all these individuals. I hope that you can derive the same kind of enjoyment that I have. I haven't lived in the Appalachians, but I have spent several years very nearby, and Frazier and Patton make me intensely nostalgic for places and times which are in all likelihood completely fictional for me as well as for you. Enjoy this. These are rare talents indeed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great story, great performance

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.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 06-17-16

Dark Southern atmosphere

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.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Will Patton Can Make a Dark Story Sound Cozy

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.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Deborah
  • Durham, NC, United States
  • 10-23-11

Another Classic for Fraizier

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.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Caroline
  • Hollywood, SC, United States
  • 09-29-11

Everything you want in a book

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.

17 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Characters remain

Too much description in the beginning, not enough movement, but stayed with it just to listen to Will Patton. In the end, a few days after finishing, I found I missed the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Captivating and Beautiful

Charles Frazier has a way of writing that captures the inherent beauty of nature, emotion, people, geography, language, even violence. Will Patton gives this story life in a delicate yet intense way, the kind of story that captivates like a child round a campfire in the middle of the nightwoods... there is nothing else on earth in this moment but this story. All of your senses are drawn into this book and held there, as gently as a baby bird cradled in a palm. I loved this book, and I'll be back again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful