From the author of COLD MOUNTAIN comes a three-part tale of earning trust, showcasing how very good love can be….and how very bad.
"NIGHTWOODS is Frazier’s pinnacle achievement to date."
Luce grew up in the town on the lake. Everyone figured the pretty cheerleader would up and leave as soon as she could. Her mom had, and her dad… well, he did all right by Luce and her sister Lily, but it wasn’t like there was a lot of hugging and mushy words. So what a surprise, then, when Lily was the one who left. She fell in love with Bud Johnson, and the couple ran off to enjoy a bit of wedded bliss. Except it didn’t work out that way. Twins came along, and the arguments came more and more frequently until, one day, Bud took care of Lily once and for all. She had it coming, what with hiding away the fortune he had toiled so hard to steal.
“…it wasn’t even as if love factored much. Luce didn’t expect to love the children, and she sure didn’t expect them to love her ever. That was a lot to ask in either direction. But there was something she was feeling toward them, and it had to do with their survival.”
While Bud awaited trial for Lily’s murder, the State whisked the kids away to stay with Aunt Luce. Life had been simple until then. Caretaker of the lakeside lodge a mile across the water from town, Luce has long prized her isolation. Now her sister is dead, and the children, voluntarily mute and prone to arson, have invaded her peace.
In a perfect demonstration of how the courts sometimes fail miserably, Bud is acquitted. His first thought as a free man is that he wants back what’s rightfully his: all that money. And he figures: Where else could it be but with those two little brats? He certainly searched his home enough times and tried to beat the truth out of Lily. Instead, he killed her before she told him where she had it squirreled away.
As Bud’s love was turning to violence, young Mr. Stubblefield’s is starting a slow burn. As the new owner of the lodge, Stubblefield is pleasantly surprised to find Luce there, bringing back memories of the crush he had on her years before. Well, maybe it never really went away.
Unused to male attention, Luce doesn’t exactly welcome Stubblefield’s new presence in her life, but she doesn’t push him away either. At least not too forcefully. But Luce isn’t one to let romance of whatever sort you might call it distract her. The children must come first. Stubblefield doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, they become the glue that binds them all together. Of course, Bud wants to change all that.
With the beauty of the Carolina mountains as a backdrop, Charles Frazier tells this unforgettable story of a woman whose amazing strength and fierce defense of her beliefs rip her world apart, yet who pushes on toward a better life. And not just for herself. NIGHTWOODS is Frazier’s pinnacle achievement to date.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on October 6, 2011