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The Night Villa Hardcover – 29 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (29 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345479599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345479594
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Carol Goodman's work has appeared in such journals as Literal Latte and Other Voices. After graduation from Vassar Colege, she taught Latin in Austin, Texas. She then received an M.F.A. in fiction. Goodman currently teaches writing and works as a writer-in-residence. Visit her at www.carolgoodman.com

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Review

"* 'Goodman's New England gothic sets up a chilling atmosphere and a gruesome scenario very nicely indeed' - Guardian * 'Fulfilling Miss Jean Brodie meets Donna Tartt' - Daily Express" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Carol Goodman's new novel mixes history, mythology and an ancient mystery to produce a beautifully written and thrilling read --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Two recurrent themes in Carol Goodman's books are women in academia and stories set in the present day but with echoes of past times. However, Night Villa does not have the supernatural overtones which are present in some of her other work. Although the themes are repetitive, the plots themselves are quite different and do not have a lot in common.

This particular tale involves an archaeological expedition which is investigating the Villa della Notte, which was covered in lava during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD, and which buried the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Using new scientific techniques to read ancient damaged scrolls, the story of a young slave girl and an author of the period are gradually being unravelled and the main characters all eventually identify with and get caught up in the fate of these two people two thousand years earlier. Also involved in the mix is a shadowy, secret organisation who are seeking to recover an important historical document thought to be buried in the villa and Sophie, who is relating the story, finds it increasingly difficult to know who, amongst her colleagues, she is able to trust.

The story is told in the first person, current tense which is a particularly difficult way to write, and can easily end up sounding stilted and awkward. However, the author delivers this style so well that after a few pages it sounds quite natural and the reader does not even think about it.

Like all Carol Goodman's work, this is not, in the main, at all fast moving and proceeds at a rather leisurely pace. However, the writing and in particular the description of people and places is a pleasure to read. I am surprised she does not have more of a following in this country.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Satinalibrary on 1 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the first of Goodman's novels I've read, but I enjoyed it so much I've now read everything she's written. I love the way she combines the mysteries of the past with a crime in the present in such a way that the answer to the old is somehow more important than the resolution of the new. I've learnt a lot about The Classics adn ancient mythology too. Her novels are undeniably similar to each other, but The Night Villa is a step away from her usual style, and adds some substance to the literary thriller. If you want a better-written historical mystery than Dan Brown can provide then read this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ladyguinevere on 14 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the first book of Carol Goodman's that I've read, and I really enjoyed it. It's an entertaining summer read type book, but mixes in some interesting classical and mystical references which I found interesting and which gave it all a bit more depth than it would have had otherwise. The mysteries of the past and the present are intertwined expertly and I definitely kept wanting to read more and more to find out what happens next.

My only gripes are that I saw most of the final ending coming from miles away, and there were quite a few plot devices that were just a little bit too convenient and unbelievable, but it was so entertaining that I didn't care. A really good yarn.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the Night Villa a great deal - unusual in that most of it is set outside of the US. I read this after Arcadia Falls, and feel CG returned to her forte with this novel.
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Format: Audio Download
I enjoyed my first two Carol Goodman novels, The Lake of Dead Languages and Seduction of Water, but this one seemed a bit one dimensional in comparison. I loved the descriptions of the archaeological site known as The Night Villa, and the story of the slave girl, Iusta, that was gradually being unveiled by multi-spectral imaging of the papyrus scrolls on which it had been written. Unfortunately I wasn't grabbed by the modern day characters or the 'adventure' story.

Archaeological professor, Sophie Chase, is recovering from a traumatic event on her University campus when she is persuaded to take part in a dig in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. In the labyrinth of tunnels under the villa, the researchers find a number of valuable antique documents that become the target of money making moguls and a modern day religious cult whose rites are based on based on old scripts.

I visited Herculaneum and Pompeii a few years ago and could well imagine the old paintings and mosaics, and the sand coloured walls of the ancient villa. The tunnels underground made it even more atmospheric and I'm fascinated by archaeology. However, the characters didn't grab me and the subterranean chase felt more like a scene from The Hobbit than anything genuinely historic. According to Carol Goodman's web page, the story of Iusta is based on the life of a slave girl who lived at the time of the volcanic eruption, which I found fascinating, but the mythological stuff was, personally, of less interest.

All in all, a bit of a marmite book; good in parts. Probably best recommended to lovers of mythology and archaeology.

I listened to an audio version, expertly narrated by Susanna Burney

Other Carol Goodman novels I have read:
The Lake of Dead Languages (4 stars)
Seduction of Water (4 stars)
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