“Set in the stark south of Appalachia in the 1960s, Charles Frazier’s new novel delivers a study in human strength and endurance. At its center is Luce, a young woman who was abandoned as a child and later raped as a young woman. She has taken up residence in a dilapidated hotel on the outskirts of town where she serves as a caretaker. A recluse, she has built a simple life of music, books and an appreciation of nature—a love of leaves, weather, seasonal changes. She views her life as an equation: the horrible events of her past are reimbursed by the beauty of the natural landscape of her surroundings.
This works for a time, until her murdered sister’s twins are left in her care. Dolores and Frank have not only witnessed the brutal killing of their mother by her husband, Bud, but have suffered at Bud’s violent hand as well. Though they are capable of speech, they have chosen to move through their lives with Luce as mutes. Add to the equation Stubblefield, who has inherited the old hotel Luce calls home. He returns to his hometown to take charge of his inheritance and simultaneously discovers Luce as a grown woman, and the object of a teenage crush years ago.
In slow moving circles
, each character revolves around the others: Luce who is determined to do right by her sister’s children, Stubblefield who cautiously steps in to provide care and companionship, and Bud who believes there’s money in the old hotel that is rightfully his.
Though bleak by circumstance, Frazier’s characters become so much more than their pasts. I found Luce and Stubblefield to be compassionate individuals who forge futures built on reality and honesty. There is a built-in tension to this story that pulls the reader through what feels at times like a tight web of darkness. Frazier delivers a taut novel with characters that resonate. For me, Nightwoods recalls Frazier’s hugely successful Cold Mountain in its character development and reflective setting.”—Wendee, Queen Anne Books, Seattle. Buy Nightwoods from Queen Anne Books.