Read Nightwoods by Charles Frazier Online


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 ofThe 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....

Title : Nightwoods
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781400067091
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Nightwoods Reviews

  • Michael
    2019-02-17 14:38

    I was disappointed over how little this one sticks in my mind a month after reading it. That I felt no urge to say something about it at its completion is another personal testament. The art of Frazier’s language is alive, as is his wonderful skills at conveying a sense of place, here Appalachian North Carolina. Unlike Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, the setting is contemporary. But through a bit of magic on the part of the omniscient narrator, there is a sense of ancient, mythic forces at play in the tale. Luce is a caretaker of a remote, run-down lodge on a lake who has taken custody of her sister’s two young kids after she is murdered by her husband. The children are so traumatized, they no longer speak to adults, have a limited sense of right and wrong, and a dangerous love of the power of fire. She has her hands full with the godlike task of teaching them to become human and find their voices again. She barely has any voice any more herself, a victim of a violent crime that did not find justice. Fortunately, the new owner of the lodge, Stubblefield, arrives on the scene, having moved back to the area to oversee his inherited properties. When Luce’s murderer beats his case, the kids as witnesses to his crime become his targets. This force of pure evil meets with the resilient resources of the apparently weak provisional family. Much action takes place in the deep dark woods, as if nature itself and the spirits of Native Americans are witnesses to the drama at play. There is some of the Gothic feel of John Connolly at play but without the usual action heroes. Just a bit too rich for my blood.

  • Jo Anne B
    2019-03-10 17:28

    "No denying the ugliness. But swear you're done and move forward.""Lola's only nugget of wisdom to her little daughters was Never cry, never, ever."This wasn't Cold Mountain but there was surely a lot of coldness to the characters in these mountains.  What I liked the most about the book was the author's literary prose and detailed writing that made you feel like you were there in the woods and mountains with these characters feeling what they were going through. Such beautiful writing makes for a great read.Luce, having been neglected and mistreated by her own mother, was forced to become one when she had to take care of her murdered sister's two children. Luce's mother Lola was certainly no role model and was instead unloving, mean, and cold-hearted. She was beautiful and Luce inherited her looks but with it came the price of having a mother who just ups and leaves because she never loved her two daughters. But she makes a go of it because she couldn't let the kids be separated through fostering and adoption. But these children have been abused by Bud, their mother's boyfriend, whom they witness killing their mother. When Luce gets them they are mute and savages that like to kill animals and burn down houses. Gotta give Luce a lot of credit for sticking it out and actually doing a pretty good job of being a mother when she never had any intentions of doing so in her life, let alone to someone else's kids with their history. She still has her good looks, but recedes into a lodge hidden away from the public life to be on her own. She was outcasted from society and held at fault when a school burned down because she  was at her phone company job at the time but was just raped by her former teacher and was unable to connect the phone calls to get help from the fire company to save the building. So she went into the mountains to live in solitude. Nothing you can do about the past, so move on. This was the mantra of many of the characters in this book and what led to their coldness.But then a man from her past enters her life when Stubblefield inherit's his father's lands that contains Luce's lodge. He had a crush on her in high school and remembers her striking looks when she competed in a beauty pageant. He has to tread water around Luce though, like she does with the kids, or else he would scare her away. Just like the kids, she has built a wall of defense around her that needs to be chipped away slowly and cautiously. He gains her trust when Bud returns to the area and tries to come after the kids looking for his money that her sister Lily hid from him before he killed her. Bud has always been obsessed with blood since attending church sermons revolving around God's blood that was spilled saving humankind. He wore a necklace with a shark's tooth that cut him and made him bleed, reminding him "that sharks die if they stop swimming forward-useful for every single misstep in life." He also had a bleeding heart tatoo reminding him that "everybody dies". He was not a good person and never held down a job and come unto a lot of money from robbing a house. He had never been the man of the house because Lily always made more money them him so this made him feel worthy. But she hid his money when he was passed out drunk and didn't live to regret it.There was nothing new in this book. The plot and charcters have been done before. But not written with such clarity and depth as this. The author did a fabulous job turning a done before story into a new one with splendid and capturing prose. I wish I could read books like this everyday, if they only existed. This was part thriller and suspense keeping you moving forward just like the characters preferred.

  • Lou
    2019-02-23 11:15

    The Nightwoods from the title you could misinterpret this to being a paranormal or horror story, it's not it's about a Human struggle. This author of Cold Mountain knows all about settings in stories he himself grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. He places you in a beautiful wilderness in this tale with some modest characters that are happy to struggle along and get to make big changes in their lives. The authors sentences are laden with some intricate writing and describes away beautiful environments and some very grim goings on. Luce finds herself in recipient of Two orphaned twins from her rather once problematic deceased sister. These kids need help from their auntie, they need love, they have seen and received their fair share of violence. Luce finds she needs to help and this is the gem of the story the outcome of these souls fated together and the danger that arises as a dark shady past comes along and tries to interfere with their progress. Luce gets to find love in the progression of this new found family bonding together, a man of wealth is he which she could be in need of.This is not a long novel and just the right length, a story of Love, loss, will and courage."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 wandering what creatures lived 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 a time before light. Before these woods and these mountains and 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?"Review and book trailer also here

  • Lawyer
    2019-03-04 16:39

    Luce and Lily were sisters, Luce the wary one and Lily the open one, who always saw the good in anyone. But Lily made a bad mistake when she fell head over heels for smooth talking Bud. Charles Frazier paints an understated portrait of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.Set in the North Carolina hills during the 1960s, Frazier takes a sharp turn from his two previous novels. The language is rich as you would expect. However, Frazier shows he has the ability to write a terse, smoothly brutal psychological thriller in "Nightwoods."Luce and Lily had parents so absorbed in themselves that when the sheriff comes to call because of Luce's truancy, he asks her, "You don't want to grow up like them, do you," pointing towards Mom and Dad's bedroom. So it was Luce who set an alarm clock in her head and made it to school and saw that Lily made it there, too.Everyone thought Luce would be the wanderer and Lily would be the stay at home sister. However, following a rape that goes unpunished, Luce becomes caretaker of an old lodge owned by Mr. Stubblefield. The Lodge is across the lake from town. That suits Luce just fine.Lily married and had two children; but her husband died young. When Bud comes courting he's the perfect candidate to be husband and father to her two children. The problem is Bud is a charming anti-social personality, who sprouted from delinquent to remorseless criminal. Bud strikes it rich, pulling off a burglary that yields a wad of money. But Lily hides it while Bud sleeps it off after a drunken celebration. Lily's days are numbered when she refuses to turn over the money. She seals her fate when she walks in on Bud doing something unspeakable to one or both children. Bud's weapon of choice is a butcher knife and he knows how to use it.Lily's children are given to Luce. What happened to Frank and Delores is anybody's guess. However, it was traumatic enough that neither of the children speak. The children are more akin to animals than human beings. Frazier drives the plot with Bud being freed following a mistrial when the jury is unable to reach a verdict. Bud knows that there's no statute of limitations for murder and Lily's brats are only going to become more talkative with time. Besides, Bud never found that money Lily stashed away. Maybe it's with those kids.What follows is a dark tale of pursuit very reminiscent of Davis Grubb's 1953 novel, "The Night of the Hunter," brought to the screen by Charles Laughton in 1955.Critical reviews of Frazier's "Nightwoods" have been mixed. Following his success with "Cold Mountain," numerous reviewers slighted Frazier's second novel, "Thirteen Moons," carping at the result of ten years of writing. In today's review in the New York Times, Randy Boyadoga summed up Frazier's novels as follows:"At their worst, these books offer something more like baroque costume drama starring hothouse Southerners with M.F.A.’s: their words and interior lives are so incessantly stylized and exquisitely evoked that they come across less as believable people than as literary confections straight out of Willy Wonka’s Faulkner Factory."Willy Wonka's Faulkner Factory? Mr. Boyadoga is the author of two novels little known outside of Canada. His latest, "Beggar's Feast," published in April of this year has four goodreads ratings. One succinctly stated, "Could not finish. Pretentious crap," after twenty pages. I haven't read Mr. Boyadoga's latest. Nor have I read his first. However, I do find his review of "Nightwoods," pretentious crap. For those so inclined, that review is available at .Frazier has done his homework. As a career prosecutor who worked extensively with cases of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault, I can say Frazier has nimbly and subtly portrayed all of the manifestations of those crimes in a powerful and compelling way.Highly recommended. Now, having finished "Nightwoods," this hothouse Southerner, sans MFA, is going to head over to the Willy Wonka Faulkner Factory and pull another book off the shelf. Think I'll pass on "Beggar's Feast."

  • Cynthia
    2019-02-21 17:34

    Beauty Queen to Recluse: A JourneyLuce is a loner. She’s a caretaker at a North Carolina bed and breakfast that’s been long out of business and whose owner, Stubblefield, has just died. Out of the blue Luce‘s sister Lily is murdered and Luce inherits her damaged twin niece and nephew. Everything about her life changes when the kids arrive. There’s no more time for reading books and listening to the radio through the night. Frazier’s pacing is phenomenal; he slowly drops shocking plot points that define the characters. He dribbles the information casually yet the why’s of people’s actions fall into place more clearly with each reveal. And what great character’s they are. Each one comes alive. Why is beautiful, smart Luce living at an isolated defunct inn, her only near neighbors the elderly Stubblefield and just as ancient Middy? Occasionally she journeys a mile or so to the local store but avoids talking to anyone. Why did her sister Lilly marry the cruel husband who murders her? Even worse what did her killer, Bud, do to his step kids to make them stop talking and turn to setting fires whenever they’re unsupervised? These are just a few of the mysteries.Frazier is also subtle about the era that the action takes place but from the many book, music and movie references I’d guess it’s set somewhere in the ‘60’s though it might as well be set in a more distant past. The events seem timeless, doomed to be repeated with variations over and over again. 1860 and 1960 feel almost interchangeable. Here folks do things the old way. Indoor plumbing and electricity are sketchy. Maddy uses an old pony, leading it in circles, to crush homegrown grain. That’s another interesting thing. Who is Maddy? I seem to remember a character by that name appearing in Frazier’s “Cold Mountain”. Is this her grown ancient and wise?I have to mention Frazier’s use of nature. He frequently harks back to pioneers and even further back to Native Americans use of this same area and identifies signs of their habitation. There’s a sense of tradition and reverence for the area’s beauty and how it impacts people’s lives. Smalls signs from animals and the stars and what’s growing help shape lives. I read ‘Cold Mountain” and liked it but in my opinion “Nightwoods” vastly outstrips it.

  • Connie (Ava Catherine)
    2019-03-09 13:43

    Because Luce and Lily's parents are self-indulgent and not concerned with the welfare of the girls, the children have to fend for themselves. When the truant officer comes to the house to find out why Luce has not been attending school, he asks her if she wants to be like "them," indicating her parents. Because that is the last thing she wants, she sets an alarm clock in her head so she can get Lily and herself to school each day. Everyone thought that Luce would be the one to leave the town and travel, but Luce stayed put while Lily left town. Lily married and had a set of twins, Delores and Frank, but her husband died. Unfortunately, she fell for Bud Johnson, who is a repeat criminal and violent man. He and a friend rob a store, and Lily hides the money from him, trying to keep it safe from his gambling. When he sobers up, he goes on a violent rampage beating her and demanding to be given his money now. Then Lily walks in on him doing something unspeakable to one of the twins, and Bud kills her in the ensuing fight. The children are witnesses to this violent murder of their mother and retreat within themselves, refusing to speak. They become more animal than human. Luce is their only living relative, so they go live with her.Luce, however, has been fighting demons of her own. She was raped by a man she knew, but although she reported the incident to the deputy, nothing was done about it. She has spent her adult life being a caretaker of a deserted, derelict lodge outside of town. The isolation suits her just fine. But now she has two small children to care for, and she is feeling out of her depth.In the meantime, because of a mistrial, Bud has been released from prison. Realizing that there is no statute of limitations on murder, he is determined to find the children who witnessed the murder and silence them for good after he finds out where his money is. He is certain the children know where their mom put his money. So Bud is on the hunt for the twins, and the suspense builds. Luce and the twins are sitting ducks in the lodge by the lake with no one to help them. This is a tightly written psychological suspense story. The characters are alive and charming, and you feel as if you actually know them after a chapter or two. Frazier has a true gift for language and characterization. The language feels authentic 1960s Appalachian, but never forced or contrived. It is just a joy to read.Cold Mountain has been one of my favorite books since its publication, and now Nightwoods is also one of my favorites although it is a very different sort of book. I look forward to Frazier's next book.

  • Judy
    2019-02-25 10:15

    I love Charles Frazier. Cold Mountain, the novel, was amazing. Forget the movie. Thirteen Moons was under appreciated because Cold Mountain was so huge. He just gets to something in his characters that no one else does in quite the same way. Possibly it is a Southern thing but also it is just purely great writing from a guy who has the soul of a poet. Both of the previous novels were historical (Civil War and Trail of Tears) but I don't think it was from history that he derived his power as a writer but from the depth and breadth of his characterizations and his ability to bring the natural world surrounding those characters so vividly to life. Though Nightwoods takes place in the 1960s, he has lost none of that power.Lit and Lola: Lit is that kind of soldier who never moves on. World War II and its grueling mix of boredom, discomfort and violence have never been matched since then for Lit, not to mention the quality of the drugs available. Lola is the teen bride and mother who would rather drink, party and fight with her husband than raise babies.Luce and Lily: The daughters of these two, who were abandoned by their mother and neglected by their father; who grew up destined to be harmed by men.Such potential caricatures of dysfunctional life take on roles suitable for a parable in the hands of Frazier. When Lily's husband Bud, a character straight out of Flannery O'Connor territory, kills her in cold blood, the state dumps Lily's fraternal twin youngsters on Luce. These kids have obvious signs of abuse, something to which Luce is no stranger. She herself is living practically like a hermit in a rundown former summer lodge as a nominal caretaker, wanting nothing more than to be left alone. When she learns that Bud has been acquitted of the murder, she knows such will not be her destiny.Charles Frazier takes a good half of the novel setting this up but every few pages he drops in another startling fact. By the time it becomes clear that Bud is the psychopath bent on ruining Luce's entire family, I was so wrought up and unbalanced there was nothing left to do but read on, never knowing who would live and who would die.The problem then was that Frazier's writing is so fine, it needs to be savored. These people are as unique as all human beings are; not one of them can be wholly admired or detested. The mountains, the weather, the flora, close around the story, as much a part of the tale as any other aspect. And those kids--my goodness.The question in all of Charles Frazier's novels has to do with how our humanity to others can possibly survive when one insanely evil person can ruin it for everyone around him. Bud was made to go to church as a child, where his natural born criminal instincts left him open to the message that the sacred shedding of blood mattered above all else. The proffered answer in Nightwoods is that shared blood can redeem a lost soul now and then, but not always and not for good.

  • Jon
    2019-03-09 16:17

    I have to confess I gave up on this one after about 100 pages. Unlike most readers, I was not particularly impressed by Cold Mountain, but since this one has gotten such rave reviews and is billed as a suspense novel, I decided to give it a try. I lost interest in the cliched characters fairly quickly, and there was little evidence of suspense. Apparently Bud would eventually show up and menace the children and Luce, but I really didn't care. The narrative voice bothered me--I couldn't tell to what extent it was free indirect discourse--sort of implying what was in Luce's head--and to what extent it was an omniscient narrator. It varied from scene to scene and almost from paragraph to paragraph. It further seemed pointlessly Arty to me with what I might take to be allusions to early passages simply self-destructing. One tiny example was the description of Bud tapping the malfunctioning gas gauge in his truck--"Pecking at it with a forefinger clarified nothing." Why "pecking?" Am I to recall the incident with the chickens that opened the novel? Or Luce's refusal to order mail-order chicks? If so, why? If not, why use the unusual word? There were many other examples that were at first distracting and finally irritating. It looks like a simple story. Just tell it and don't try to freight it with Significance.

  • Robin
    2019-03-12 11:31

    Soon receiving the book for free through Goodreads First Reads!! Yay!It always takes a while to read a Charles Frazier novel. The writing style is very dense and filled with lines I didn't want to forget, though I will of course. This is not a page-turner or a thrill ride. It is more of an arduous adventure. In the end, the adventure was worthwile. Frazier's writing style is excellent.

  • Linda
    2019-02-17 18:40

    I wanted to love this book because I still consider Frazier's "Cold Mountain" to be one of my top reads. But I became bogged down fairly quickly with this book because of sentence fragments and choppy sentences and also because of the lack of consistency with dialogues. I don't mind no quotes for dialogues but this book had dashes sometimes and some dialogues just had "he said" and "she said" inbeded in paragraphs. There are several points of view in this book and lots of changing scenery which I'm also okay with, but I did quite a bit of rereading for clarity. This is the story of Luce who lives in a lodge in the Appalachian mountains who suddenly finds herself the guardian of her sister's twin children. The children have been traumatized because of their mother's violent death by no good husband, Bud. Other characters are Lit, the local deputy and Stubblefield whose grandfather owns the Lodge and land where Luce lives. There is some gorgeous prose though and the book did come together for me after a bit, but I was expecting more.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-09 14:34

    This gothic mountain tale about a pair of feral twins and the backwoods aunt who takes them under her wing after their mother is murdered by her redneck lover is a much leaner, meaner read than the author's previous works, Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons. Each character is fully realized (including a scene-stealing elderly pony named Sally) and the rural, 1960's North Carolina setting is beautifully evoked. The creepy black pond in the middle of nowhere that features prominently in the climax is particularly unsettling, and adds a sense of magically real menace. The ending wasn't quite as satisfying as I hoped, but Frazier's rich prose helped lessen the pain. If Cold Mountain was a better movie than book for you, give Frazier another chance with Nightwoods. A pitch perfect read for this spooky time of year.

  • Winnie
    2019-02-26 15:31

    This was just an okay book. I didn’t think it had much of a story. The characters were pretty much one dimensional and the story was simple and shallow. The characters seemed undefined and were not well developed; their motivations seemed limp or non-existent. None of the characters were people I cared about or would want to know. This author simply failed to bring this story to its full potential. Thematically, Nightwoods has much to do with the damage that parents can do to their children. Lily and Luce parents were awful, as were Bud's. Luce's life is damaged as a result, but she is driven to make the cycle stop with her: she wants the twins to be loved and happy, even at the cost of her own quest for inner peace. To me, that part of the story was the best. There was too much description of the surroundings and I found it to be overdone and tedious and a bit self-indulgent. Unnecessary descriptions go on and on without advancing the characters or plot.The mysterious hole in the ground in the woods, turned out to be just that, a hole in the ground in the woods that had no real significance. I just kept waiting for the real deep stuff to develop and for me, it never did. I never once got a clear idea of what any of the characters actually LOOKED like – Luce, Bud, Lit, Stubblefield or the mute twins – and the shifting of who's doing the thinking and even talking was confusing at times.Charles Frazier fans still love this book and it received many rave reviews but it just didn't do it for me.

  • Dayna Ingram
    2019-02-17 12:25

    I think I am too much of a feminist to enjoy this book.I really don't know how many stars to give this thing. It's not that it's poorly written, it's just that it is horribly one-note. The characters are archetypes (the Hero, the Damsel-in-Distress, the Strange Children, the Villian, the Absentee Parents) who each have one very distinct motivator or event in their past that makes them who they are. There's no COMPLEXITY to these people, and that makes them boring. Furthermore, I HATE HATE HATE that Luce played the victim who needed a savior (made worse that the savior was a man with a white-knight complex in the first place). I take issue with creating a character solely around a tragedy; could there not have been any other reason (or better still, reasonS) for her to seek a solitary life in the wilderness? Come ON. And then to have her become completely reliant on this man who shows up and manipulates his way into her life as if she were the mannequin in the window he had been pining to save all along. TRANSCEND THIS BULLSHIT. Save yourself, Luce. Don't even get me started on Bud. Christ. Bottom line, this could have been good, but the characters were simple which made the story boring and I stopped paying attention three-quarters of the way through, which is sad as this is only 260 pages (my kind of length). You want a story with a strong female character who fights for herself through a wilderness of men and country? Read Winter's Bone. Luce could learn a thing or two from Ree Dolly.

  • Bandit
    2019-03-16 11:39

    Normally Appalachian tales are not my thing, at all. Sorry, Scott Nicholson, I tried and tried. Nothing of a kind in fact, something about small lives in remote backward locations just fail to engage a proper urbanite. But then again a book like this comes along and changes one's mind. At the very least it strongly supports my theory that great writing can make any story worth a while. Frazier's writing is terrific, his narrative just flows with such ease and grace, it's an utter pleasure to read. The story itself is small, nothing boombastic, just a young woman who finds herself stuck taking care of two small and difficult kids (her niece and nephew), a man who takes liking to her despite the challenging situation and a criminal after his cache. It's a solid plot and the narratives are expertly intertwined, but it isn't a thriller, more of a family drama or even a sort of love story if genres must be ascribed and the writing is the real star of the show here. To abuse a metaphor with Nightwoods you come for the forest, but stay for the trees. It's a real thing of beauty, enough to make Appalachian backwoods engaging, such strong charismatic characters, particularly the main heroine. Lovely. And lovely book. Recommended.

  • Josh
    2019-02-23 10:13

    3.5 stars that drug on in the end a bit too long to rate it a 4. Really enjoyed parts of this novel - it's plenty entertaining, features great writing and imagery. In fairness I believe others will no doubt rate up the the chain a little higher. The character interaction seemed a bit too rehearsed to be 100% spot on. Perhaps a 4 in almost every way but to distinguish it from other similar works I'll rate it at 3. Strangely, I might be more apt to "recommend" this one to others looking to wade into Southern, somewhat gritty tales than I would some others I personally enjoyed more.

  • Hansen Wendlandt
    2019-03-16 18:18

    Frazier’s first three novels focus, respectively, on lost love and found friendship, wisdom and the ills of progress over a long life, and an unsympathetic world that “does not punish or reward but cleanses all bones equally.” (259) Despite, however, these different eras, plots and situations, there are some hints and themes that echo through his writing: pioneer morality, the power of time, the inevitability of loss, the resiliency of nature, quick glimpses of spirituality… What is unique about Nightwoods, as though Cormac McCarthy snuck in some influence, is just how dark it is. Sure, (spoiler alert) the kids do live and Bud does die, but there is little hope in that justice, or much of anywhere in this story. Partly for that sinister tone, it is a harder to appreciate this book than Cold Mountain or Thirteen Moons, which have even less justice but enough joy to give the characters and narrative room to breathe. As well, because we get so little here of the Appalachian history that Frazier writes well, and for a handful of other surprising weaknesses, let us hope he returns to the epic historical adventures that made him a favorite author. Two lines worth noting, about ethics and sunsets: “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 you. Otherwise you’re worthless.” (4) “Expressed as art, the colors would lay on canvas entirely unnatural and sentimental, and yet they were a genuine manifestation of place many evenings in fall.” (197)

  • Pam
    2019-03-16 15:34

    Nightwoods by Charles Frazier 5/5 starsI received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.I really, really liked this book. I won't recount the story here, you can read it numerous places. Frazier's pace was almost ... almost ... too slow for me. It took me awhile to care much about Luce, but it then took him awhile to reveal her in detail. She's a loner ... maybe even a recluse ... who left town in disgrace to be the caretaker of a delapidated and closed resort in the mountains of Tennesee. Her major contact with a world outside The Lodge is night-time radio. Until everything changes when she becomes the unlikely caretaker to her murdered sister's twins. Until she meets Stubblefield the younger. Until Bud surfaces in town.The first part of the book is devoted primarily to setting the stage for the action ... if you can call it that ... in the following pages. Don't get me wrong, it's action ... it's just not fast-paced action. In some ways it felt like torture. But delicious torture. The characters are exceedingly well-drawn ... and trust me, you will come to care about a few of them. Others you will be happy to see get their just desserts. Frazier's prose is breathtakingly beautiful at times ... who am I kidding? ... almost ALL the time. His descriptions of the landscape take you to those mountains, but he never uses two words where one will do. I love that precision.A beautifully-written, compelling story with characters you won't want to leave behind.

  • Kasa Cotugno
    2019-03-17 14:26

    Following Charles Frazier's stunning debut with Cold Mountain, anxious readers waited 10 years for his next book, hoping to regain the majesty and flow of that iconic award winner. Thirteen Moons, his followup, did not get critical or popular accalim, and almost six years has passed before the release of this much anticipated Nightwoods, which fulfills the promise of Frazier as a writer of beautiful, sensuous fiction. In other reviews I have noticed that Southern writers evince a care of craft which seems to stem from a patience not to rush a book to publication before it has been written to their satisfaction. This book is no exception.. Frazier brings his state of North Carolina into focus so clearly that the mountainous landscape becomes a character in itself, not merely a backdrop. It shapes the characters with its challenges and beauties. Luce, the truly original heroine of this book, joins Ada and Ruby, his former creations, women in extraordinary circumstances who though ingenuity and grit withstand unbearable hardship. This book has a more contemporary setting than the previous two, but is still set 50 years in the past, qualifying it as an historical novel. It is also more of a page turner, a truly suspenseful story with many characters marked with the stamp of originality and in some cases, humor. This novel proves that Charles Frazier can work in many genres and stretch his imagination in more than one direction.

  • Tony
    2019-03-16 10:26

    Plot-driven, so one can hurry through to the end. Having gotten away with a cinematic ending in Cold Mountain, Frazier made this entire slim volume made-for-TV. The characters are ready-made, from central casting, so there's no need to explain why they are the way they are. The dialogue has moments but no great scenes like Inman and the Goat Woman from CM.Frazier has become of a type, along with Richard Russo: readable if predictable stories, a workshop feel. If a gun is introduced in the first chapter...... Here, the introduced weapon is a straight-edge barber's blade. Gee, I wonder if that will come in handy? Frazier's witty dialogue is wry to Russo's laugh-out-loud. I read once that it is hard to believe in the criminal justice system when you realize that your case will be decided by twelve people too stupid to get out of jury duty. Frazier restates that with a Southern twist, "What a grand idea democracy is, where every fool who can't get out of jury duty gets to have his opinion counted." This book is neither original not deep. It is re-warmed and gussied up. Either an old story with a different accent, or a remembered voice singing a forgettable song.

  • Kay
    2019-03-05 13:26

    I loved this book! The words, fresh, startling, concrete, kept me hungry to keep reading; lovely sentences, rhythms--I just want to hug the whole language of it really tight. I want to page through and read words and sentences and descriptions again and again--the language never stopped being luscious. The slow, quiet Southern mountain tone of the whole prose was in sharp contrast to the mean, horrid, scary, nasty plot, and this contrast worked beautifully. Never a gasp or a cheap thrill. The pace that results from this muted tone and the unrelenting awfulness of the story works perfectly, just read it as they lived it. There is not much insight-digging or psychoanalyzing, but the telling of a chilling story that is banal these days but that is hard to forget for the way it is told, in the midst of great beauty and love. I am so glad my book group picked this--I was not going to read it because my impression was that it would be a slog. It was the opposite; I read it in a day and a half.

  • Ariel
    2019-03-14 10:41

    I picked this up on a whim at the library. I was intrigued by it's stellar review on Entertainment Weekly and I remember enjoying Cold Mountain.This novel takes place in 1960's Applachia. These people are poor, as in sucking pig spine poor. I draw the line at eating meat that's unidentifiable. The whole tone of the novel is run down, desperate.Luce is a woman who has checked out of the world. A violent incident sends her from cheerleader to town recluse overnight. Intruding into Luce's insulated world is the mute twins of her murdered sister. If there is anyone possibly more damaged than Luce, it's them. Their hobbies included the murder of chickens and pyromania.The bleakness is lifted by neighbor Maddie and potential boyfriend for Luce, who for some reason is given the maddening name of Stubblefield. The repeated overuse of the word Stubblefield started to crawl on my nerves. It would have been okay to use the pronoun he when referring to him once in awhile. Nit picking I guess, anyway back to the story. Just when it seems that a small, rag tag family is formed, Bud, the twins murderous stepfather arrives in town to terrorize everyone. While they escape his murderous rampage? Read the book to find out.I had mixed feelings about the book. They were so mixed that I went back and reread the review that peaked my interest. The review confirmed what I already knew, the pace is slow. Slow like life in the Applachian mountains. The writing is undeniable beautiful though. I think I was expecting more of a thriller type story because of the murder premise. The actual murder and the hinted abuse of the children is actually secondary to the story. I think the plot was more driven by the idea of family relationships and that sometimes family is not who you are related to but who you chose to let in your life.

  • Melodie
    2019-02-17 15:36

    Charles Frazier has returned to what he does best. Whatever the time in history, his stories of life in the mountains of North Carolina resonate with not only the vast physical beauty of the place, but also the stark,brutally honest depiction of life lived there. Luce knows all about choices or the lack thereof living in those mountains. You either grow up and leave or you grow up and stay. Her sister left and ended up dead, murdered. Luce stayed and went from cheerleader to recluse, living in a crumbling lodge as caretaker.Her self-imposed solitary existence is shattered upon the arrival of her sister's orphaned twins. Learning to live with little humans is a challenge under the best of circumstances. But the twins have seen and experienced things no child should. Troubled and withdrawn, Luce is challenged to find a way through to them. Enter a tentative romantic interest and the unexpected appearance of her sister's killer/husband turned bootlegger. Luce's uncomplicated life is suddenly turned upside down. I enjoyed this look into life on the mountain.A reminder that not everyone lives large in a romantic log cabin. Living on the mountain can be a hard scrabble existence,punctuated with bouts of unpredictable weather and complicated relationships. But for those tough enough to endure and tender enough to recognize the natural beauty and rhythm,it can be a good life.

  • Michael
    2019-02-18 14:15

    This story takes place in the Appalachian countryside in North Carolina, it details the picture of the struggle for life.Luce lives by herself in an old lodge. She's totally self-reliant and has been living in the building which was a summer retreat by a man made lake. When the owner died, she took it upon herself to act as caretaker.She inherits her murdered sister's two chilren, feeling that if she didn't care for them, they'd be split up and placed into adoption. This seems to be part of the Naturalistic literary style where the character's environment and heritage predetermine what will happen to them leaving the characters little that they can do to change their future.Bud is the children's father. He's a cold blooded killer who reminded me of the excellent character, Anton Chigurth in "No Country for Old Men." As Bud's path converge with Luce and the childre, suspense mounts and the story becomes hard to put down.Charles Frazier is a wonderful story teller and has given us a book with rich characters for whom the reader develops a great deal of empathy. "Nightwoods" reaffirms the author's place as one of the best literary writers working today.

  • Thomas Nevins
    2019-03-20 12:17

    Talk about atmospheric, I could feel the weather and the tension. Frazier's lyrical style lulls the reader, setting them up for the gut punch of the action. Great characters, well most of them, and a sociopath that Thomas Harris would admire. This guy can write and Nightwoods is a hell of a story. In stores 9/27, or write to me before that date!

  • Jane
    2019-02-25 15:41

    While I frequently find more modern literature about dysfunctional families well, too dysfunctional, I enjoyed every quirky character in this book, Frazier's beautiful prose, and the journey of really not having a clue of where the story was headed. A great read on so many levels.

  • Sara
    2019-03-08 13:14

    Because I want every Frazier book to rise to the level of Cold Mountain, there is a temptation to be disappointed. But that is unfair. He propels the story forward very believably, and we want to go along for the ride.

  • Jim
    2019-03-12 13:41

    With “Cold Mountain” and “13 Moons” etched in my memory, I started “Nightwoods” by Charles Frazier with great expectations. As I finished it, all I could say was: “I’m glad this one is done and behind me.”“Nightwoods” is much like the 2010 movie “Winter Bones,” which my wife and I watched as I took a break from the closing pages of “Nightwoods.” Slow moving, frustrating, meandering with seemingly little destination in mind. No, one is in no way based on the other.“Nightwoods” takes place in mostly North Carolina, in and near a tiny, rural, backwoods town on a lake at the base of some mountains in the 1950s. Mostly poor, ignorant people, uneducated, many living a life amid murder, bad marriages, illegal liquor and drugs. Oh, that’s “Winter Bones,” too, except the setting is the Missouri Ozarks in maybe the 1960s, 70s or, hell, today.Speaking of meandering, sorry.“Nightwoods” is occasionally rich in some fine writing, a la a trademark of Frazier. Some passages just draw you back to read them again, but many, in this book just have you wanting to be done. This is not a book I’d recommend for someone looking for suspense.This book is mostly about a really messed up family: Lit, the father is a World War II vet and deputy sheriff, who likes his alcohol and drugs and is divorced from his wife, Lola, a drunkard who upped and disappeared to Florida; Lily, a daughter who was murdered by her no-account husband Johnny, aka Bud, who was acquitted of the killing; and Luce, short for Lucinda, who had retreated to a life as caretaker of an old lodge after being raped by her ex-high-school chemistry teacher.Luce is “awarded” Lily’s two traumatized kids, Frank and Delores, by the state. Bud returns home as a stranger with a few axes to grind, and a no-account man named Stubblefield has to come to grips with his failing life when he becomes, by inheritance, owner of the closed-down lodge and of the area’s tavern, which serves up illegal liquor in a dry county while the cops keep their eyes shut.Stubblefield falls in love with Luce, who gradually falls in love with him, and they build their relationship while trying to help the two kids and survive the terror of Bud.I guess one gets a taste of filthy poor and uneducated backwood folks in 1950s’ North Carolina, but I don’t see that I got anything out of reading this book. If you like Frazier, settle for rereading “Cold Mountain” or “13 Moons” and wait for Frazier to offer up another winner.

  • Vanessa
    2019-03-14 12:31

    Cold Mountain is one of my favorite novels, but I was bitterly disappointed in Thirteen Moons. Nightwoods falls somewhere in the middle. It is, at base, a classic thriller, with chapters alternately focusing on our heroine (and those characters who have relationships with her) and her sister's murderer. The plot is well-constructed, and I definitely felt the tension as the stories intertwined. But somehow I never really felt an empathetic connection with the main characters, particularly Luce's niece and nephew. Also I just can't get a handle on Frazier's authorial voice. Cold Mountain successfully managed to weave together high poetic images with place-appropriate dialect. (Cormac McCarthy is also good at this kind of mix.) Nightwoods is far less successful in this regard. So it sometimes was a bit bumpy to read.

  • Karen
    2019-02-17 13:27

    "Nightwoods" by Charles FrazierAuthor Charles Frazier seems unable to make a literary misstep. In "Nightwoods" he spins another country yarn of North Carolina mountain life. Luce is a young woman living in a long abandoned mountain lodge as it's caretaker. Her quiet life is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of her murdered sister's two children, damaged and mute. Luce is not equipped to handle sudden 'motherhood', especially given the wild children's predilection to setting fires and killing chickens. Just as she feels she maybe making a connection with them, two men enter her life, one who may finally succeed in wooing her, the other her sister's murderer and he's out to silence witnesses.I literally could not put this beautifully written novel down until I regretfully reached the final page.

  • Amy
    2019-02-21 13:43

    This is so beautiful written and has a great pace with much suspense. It is rare to find such a balance. I found myself reading slowly wanting to savor the poetic prose and re-reading in order to take in the profoundness.I love all the characters. Through them Frazier explores time--- living in the past or present, loneliness and tenuous often non-existent bonds of familial love.This book is just wonderful and sure to be a big deal in the literary world.