Growing up together in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan before it was a trendy area, Clare and Anne Burke were as close as two sisters could be. Although their family life was troubled due to their parents' unhappy marriage, they took comfort in the fact that they always had one another.
As so often happens, however, adulthood changes things between the sisters. When Anne marries Danish artist Frederik Rasmussen, a famous glassblower, the relationship between the sisters suddenly becomes nonexistent. By means of physical and mental abuse, Frederik effectively isolates Anne from the love and support of her dear sister.
"In LITTLE NIGHT, Rice plumbs the depths of the damage that physical and mental abuse causes to the recipients and allows us into the heads of those who suffer these situations. In spite of the serious nature of the subject matter, the story is filled with happy moments and an undying hope for future happiness."
When Clare finally gathers her courage to visit Anne and her children years later, it's as if the past period of estrangement melts away. Seeing visual signs of Frederik's abuse on Anne, Clare encourages her to pack her and the children's things and leave with Clare immediately. Before she can do so, though, Frederik arrives home and immediately attacks Anne when he realizes she is about to depart their hellish marriage.
At a loss for what action to take to save her sister from further abuse, Clare picks up a burning log from the fireplace and aims for Frederik's head. Unfortunately for Clare, when law enforcement becomes involved and she is arrested, Anne takes Frederik's side and seals Clare's fate --- a two-year prison sentence.
In spite of being branded a felon, Clare manages to make a life for herself in New York City after her release from prison. She lives in the house she and Anne grew up in, immerses herself in bird watching, and creates and maintains a blog that shares her ornithological experiences with others. Although she's comfortable with her life, Clare isn't completely happy. She yearns for a deeper relationship with her former lover, Paul, with whom she broke ties while in prison, and she longs for contact and reconciliation with Anne and her niece and nephew.
When she receives a letter from her niece, Grit, Clare is filled with anticipation and trepidation at the thought of her arrival. Once Grit makes an appearance and sets up house in Clare's spare bedroom, the two begin forging a positive relationship that allows them to begin healing from the events of the past. Now if only Clare could regain contact with the sister her heart longs for. Will she be able to extend a helping hand and save those whom she loves, or will it be too late for her sister by the time help arrives to extricate her from her situation?
Luanne Rice's 30th novel is a riveting read that immediately immerses the reader into the horrifying life of Anne's abuse and Clare's feelings of inadequacy at being unable to extract her sister from a tortured existence. In spite of the fact that Anne pushes away everyone close to her, including her children, those who love her still long to see her live a happy life away from the maniacal Frederik.
In LITTLE NIGHT, Rice plumbs the depths of the damage that physical and mental abuse cause the recipients and allows us into the heads of those who suffer these situations. In spite of the serious nature of the subject matter, the story is filled with happy moments and an undying hope for future happiness.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on June 8, 2012
- Publication Date: June 25, 2013
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books
- ISBN-10: 0143123327
- ISBN-13: 9780143123323