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Little Night: A Novel

Little Night: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Luanne Rice
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The New York Times–bestselling author’s heart-wrenching chronicle of a woman and her niece, who attempt to build the relationship they longed for all their lives

Luanne Rice knows women. The author of thirty-one novels, Rice is a master at creating vivid female characters and capturing their complex family dynamics, and Little Night is one of her most powerful novels yet.

Clare Burke’s life took a devastating turn when she defended her sister, Anne, from an abusive husband and ended up serving prison time for assault. Nearly twenty years later—long estranged from her sister—Clare is living a quiet life in Manhattan as an urban birder and nature blogger, when Anne’s daughter, Grit, shows up on her doorstep. When it appears that Anne has followed Grit, each woman wonders what their long-awaited reunion will bring. Little Night is a riveting story about women and the primal, tangled family ties that bind them together.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 608 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670023566
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (5 Jun 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072O0174
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #605,469 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Romantic indeed 26 Sep 2013
By b-ir
She writes with poetry, indeed she does. But, in this book I feel that all the main characters are really, really ill and need urgent help from professionals. You can not get a happy ending when people are as f... up as in this book. I do not believe in this story. Sorry..
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love this author! 26 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am an avid fan of Luanne Rice and love all her books. . Highly recommend. Have only read the first few pages as yet but I know already that it will be enjoyed like all of her previous books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  68 reviews
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Birds and bogs 5 Jun 2012
By TChris - Published on
Luanne Rice is a capable writer who specializes in telling stories about family dynamics. The bare bones of a good story are buried deep within Little Night. Sadly, a determined reader will need to dig through contrived situations and weakly developed characters to find it.

The prologue begins in 1993 with the arrest of Clare Burke after she smashes Frederik Rasmussen's face with a burning log. After years of estrangement from her sister Anne caused by Anne's controlling husband Frederik, Clare had noticed Anne's injuries during a visit. Clare was convincing Anne to flee to a place of safety when Frederik came home and began to choke Anne. The police do not believe Clare was protecting Anne when Anne refuses to contradict her domineering husband, who accuses Clare of attempting to murder him.

In 2011, Anne's daughter Grit visits Clare in New York City. Grit is a follower of Clare's bird blog. She shares Clare's animosity toward Frederik. Grit also has issues surrounding her mother's uncaring behavior and her brother's apparent death in a bog. Grit and Clare nonetheless bond over the fact that they both miss Anne. Before she fled home, Grit stole Anne's diary which Clare reads to gain insight into Anne's personality.

Part two begins with a posting on Anne's blog that (with good reason) questions her parenting of Grit. Reading it together (as well as subsequent entries) gives Clare and Grit another bonding opportunity.

Other events are scattered through this mostly uneventful novel. Grit behaves in a self-destructive way. She gets tattoos from an artist named Dennis. She earns a little money by cooking for pretentious people. Clare examines her feelings for a bird enthusiast named Paul. Yet most of the novel's drama is reserved for the last couple of chapters, which I thought were entirely unbelievable.

In fact, I didn't believe much of the story at all, beginning with the setup. I doubt Clare would have been prosecuted, much less convicted and sentenced to prison, given the fairly obvious evidence of Frederick's abusive nature (Anne's loyalty to her husband notwithstanding). The subplot involving Grit's brother is similarly contrived.

Neither did I believe that the characters were real. Frederik is too over-the-top to be convincing. Sure, there are people in the world who are as evil as Frederik, but Rice fails to develop Frederik in sufficient depth to make his personality ring true. Anne is subservient because Rice needs her to be that way to make the story work, but we never learn why such a seemingly strong-willed girl changes so dramatically that later in life she betrays both her sister and her daughter for the sake of a man she doesn't seem to like. Dennis is improbably attuned to Grit from the instant they meet. His perfect sensitivity makes him seem more like an illusion than a real person. Neither Paul nor Dennis is a fully realized character. They are empty vessels, existing only to spice the story by giving Clare and Grit the opportunity for love.

Some aspects of Little Night are hokey: a bartender's intuitive knowledge that Clare had served prison time (a mere two years) because of her "blank stare"; the upscale soap opera that was Anne's life before Frederik came along (fate's punishment for her wanton ways?); Dennis feeling moved to kiss Grit while giving her a tattoo, apparently because he senses her tortured soul. Clare's childhood discovery that her perfect father was a less-than-perfect husband -- a realization that "broke Anne in a way that changed her forever" -- is trite. Scenes of family drama are robbed of their potential power by cheesy, melodramatic writing (Grit "missed her mother so much she thought her head would explode"). The characters engage in so much hand-wringing about their family problems that the narrative becomes emotionally deadening.

Rice presents some interesting information about birds and bogs. She draws interesting parallels between nature and families, both of which are filled with beauty and brutality. Unfortunately, Rice feels a need to explain her metaphors, as if she thinks her readers are too dim to grasp them without assistance. That's the fundamental problem with this uneven novel: sometimes Rice tells us too much, other times not enough. Rice's failure to find the right balance makes Little Night a novel of limited appeal.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DISAPPOINTMENT!! 13 Jun 2012
By L. A. Roy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I so wanted to like this book but I could relate, I have a sister who want talk to me because of her abusive husband but this book was boring and weird!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Disturbing Little Night 14 Jun 2012
By Jill Dennison - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read a number of books by Luanne Rice, beginning with Cloud Nine (1999), I was expecting more than was delivered. I found this to be by far the darkest book I have read by Ms. Rice, as well as disappointingly unbelievable, both in characterization and plot. The story is that of two sisters, Clare and Anne, who grew up very close, presumably as they were mostly shut out of their parents' lives during their childhood. Anne, the older sister, marries Frederik, a controlling, narcissistic European glassblower who effectively removes her from the lives of her family, both physically and emotionally. Frederik is the personification of evil, yet we are given no insight as to the reason. No insight into the character, really. Clare remains devoted to Anne, despite not being able to see her or her two children for several years, and one day she takes it upon herself to visit. On seeing that Anne is obviously an abused wife, Clare convinces her to leave Frederik, but alas, it is at this point that, predictably, Frederik returns home and immediately upon hearing Anne agree to go away with Clare, he begins choking Anne. Clare grabs a burning log from the fireplace and hits Frederik in the face with it to get him away from Anne, but once the police arrive, Anne agrees with her husband that Clare intended to murder Frederik and thus the stage is set ... Clare goes to prison while Anne, Frederik and the children (who have the unlikely names of Gilly and Grit) move to Europe, completing the separation of the sisters. Note that this is not a spoiler, as all this takes place during the first few pages of the book.

Sometimes we need to be disturbed, shaken out of our own peaceful, secure lives and made to look around us in order to realize that there is despair and hopelessness in the world. And this book is certainly disturbing, but my two main complaints are that it is fairly unrealistic and that despair seems to be the main theme. At one point, it is implied that the theme is redemption, which is the opposite of despair, but I failed to see where redemption came into play. I will not go into detail, as I don't like to write spoilers into my reviews, but suffice it to say that what little happiness is found in these character's lives is similar to what they say about one-horse towns: don't blink or you'll miss it.

Aside from my complaints about the sense of doom, anger and evil that comprise the plot, I was also disappointed in the development of the characters. None seemed real to me, and although Clare and Grit are sympathetic characters, I was not able to connect to them as I would have liked. The character of Anne vacillated between pitiable, despicable and just plain crazy, while the character of Frederik was consistently evil, but as mentioned above, with no insight as to the roots of his persona. Had the characters been more three-dimensional, it might have saved this book despite the deficiencies in plot. I rarely read a book that I regret having read, though some are certainly better than others, but I must say I wish I had not wasted the time on this one, as it left me feeling disturbed and angry. That said, I have enjoyed other books by this author and will not let my disappointment in this book turn me away from reading more by her.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An intimate tragedy. 6 Jun 2012
By rameau - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
When I started reading this book, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I had never read a Luanne Rice novel before and I only knew that I liked the cover. And that I liked weird novels.

The blurb promises a story of two generations meeting, estranged sisters and a family tragedy. It reminded me a lot of Purge and that, unfortunately, raised my expectations to unrealistic proportions.

Where Oksanen uses a family tragedy to describe the horrors of two or three lost generations, Rice's story is smaller. So much more intimate. She contents herself with describing a family tragedy on a more personal level. She explores how abuse affects not only those within the immediate family unit, but the people around them, the extended family and their friends.

Clare watches her sister's new husband isolate her from everyone she's known before. Parent's and sister aren't welcome in their house; they are something to be left behind. Clare watches her sister change from afar until she can't take any longer. She picks a time for a visit and tries to reconnect with her sister. Instead of taking Anne and her children away, Clare ends up saving her sister's life and being sent to jail for an assault. Eighteen years later, it's time for Clare's niece to visit unexpectedly.

I was really looking forward to reading about Clare dealing with her sister's betrayal and trying not to project those feelings onto her niece, Grit. Instead, I read about her unrealistic forgiveness and neverending longing for the sister of her childhood.

I've seen what a betrayal of a close family member does. to a person. I've seen what taking them to court and lying there does. When someone who is your flesh and blood does that to you, you don't simply turn on the blinders and say: "He made her do it. He's at fault." No. You pretend they're dead, because what kind of mother does that to her child. Not a living one.

Only bond closer than the one between a mother and a daughter I can imagine is that one between two sisters. A sister who betrays you isn't a sister at all. People react differently, you say. They do, but wholly without anger? I think not. Clare never expresses any anger or rage at her sister. She's the virtuous, too good to be true woman who forgives.

That's where this novel fails, for me. It wasn't in the wonderfully fantastical, fairytaleish quality of the writing. It wasn't focusing on more than one person's point of view. It wasn't even in my pet peeve of switching between first and third person limited narratives.

It was in the lack of character growth for Clare. She might have learned to open herself up to Paul, but she never really worked through her issues with her sister. At least Grit went through the stages of grief and dealing with her hate and anger and rage against her mother. At least Grit admitted she'd been betrayed and learned to forgive.

The story of these three women could have been truly magical instead of just pretending to be it.

**I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. **
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fiction mixed with non fiction 25 Jun 2012
By Patricia Hackel - Published on
I've read several of Luanne Rice's book but this one was very hard to follow. It has too much description about things that are not important to the story. I felt that there was more non fiction material than necessary. And then her fictional story was just thrown in between it all. I felt nothing for the characters and felt cheated by the weirdness of it and the awful ending.
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