Customer Reviews


52 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (24)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless contemporary American literature
Nightwoods is the 1950's tale of Luce, a young woman who has shunned society and chooses to live as a caretaker in a remote cabin in North Carolina. Content to be surrounded by nature, the lake and the mountains, she revels in her solitude until a man from the state department shows up. He has her murdered sister Lily's children in the car and says that as the next of...
Published on 20 Sep 2011 by J. Morris

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A big story through a long trail of minute detail that holds the attention
Charles Frazier in Nightwoods has managed the same trick again: to tell a big story through a long trail of minute detail and still hold the reader's attention. I'm not sure he's pulled it off as well as Cold Mountain because the story isn't on the same grand historic scale, and at times I wondered why he was telling this story at all. Interesting but at times not...
Published on 1 May 2012 by DebB


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless contemporary American literature, 20 Sep 2011
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Nightwoods (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nightwoods is the 1950's tale of Luce, a young woman who has shunned society and chooses to live as a caretaker in a remote cabin in North Carolina. Content to be surrounded by nature, the lake and the mountains, she revels in her solitude until a man from the state department shows up. He has her murdered sister Lily's children in the car and says that as the next of kin, she can either take them in or they go into state-care.

Naturally she chooses to foster them, but they come with more baggage than you could imagine when her sister's ex-husband - Bud - recently & dubiously cleared of a murder-charge shows up looking for the children. Just what does he want?

Nightwoods is fantastically written; the vivid descriptions of the idyllic alpine-setting really allow you to picture the rural homestead. Frazier's descriptions of 1950's North Carolina read like some of the truly great American-authors; all "dipped in cornmeal and fried in lard" like Steinbeck or Salinger, there is even some influence from the beatnik literature scene, reminiscent of Kerouac as the local policeman has a taste for Benzedrine and the locals are fixated with moonshine.

Characters pasts and interactions are brilliantly depicted and this really builds up a great deal of character progression as we see Luce, seemingly frozen solid by her experiences in society, begin to thaw a little. Frazier manages to paint Bud as a formidably evil character without ever straying into exaggeration and as a result, his characters are plausible and truly interesting.

I can't recommend this book highly enough, my only complaint is that it was just the 248 small-print pages long!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A big story through a long trail of minute detail that holds the attention, 1 May 2012
By 
DebB (Oxfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Nightwoods (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Charles Frazier in Nightwoods has managed the same trick again: to tell a big story through a long trail of minute detail and still hold the reader's attention. I'm not sure he's pulled it off as well as Cold Mountain because the story isn't on the same grand historic scale, and at times I wondered why he was telling this story at all. Interesting but at times not interesting enough. A little too similar to so many other novels about the American predicament of senseless violence and that lack of empathy rooted in dysfunctional individualism. But it had a happy ending (I think) and there was never a moment when I was going to quit without finishing the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beauty and violence, 23 May 2012
By 
purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Nightwoods (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Luce's new stranger children were small and beautiful and violent. She learned early that it wasn't smart to leave them unattended in the yard with the chickens'.

Frazier's novel opens with beauty and violence and that is one summary of this novel. On one level it is a thriller but it's also a hymn to the beauty of the Appalachian mountains and the life that can be lived there. Luce visits her old neighbours and watches fireworks across a lake and listens to her radio. The pace is leisurely, slowing us down to the lifestyle and immersing us in rich description of the landscape. As in Cold Mountain (Sceptre 21's), he gives space for relationships to grow, and the damaged to regain trust. Her odd and almost feral niece and nephew bring change and responsibility and connection to others. Frazier is also able to sum up well when he ways to a backstory can be drawn in a few sentences - 'Bud and Lily had become a bad match immediately after the hot courtship ended'. The odd idyll is, of course, threatened by the encroaching modern world, represented both by heir Stubblefield, who brings the possibility of love and the twins' stepfather, Bud, who brings violence and greed. Stick with it - this novel has rewards.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating pleasure on every level, 23 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Nightwoods (Hardcover)
I found it difficult to pause in my reading of this engaging novel about a post war community in remote wild country in the USA.
Right from the beginning the author grabs you and makes you both long for a happy outcome yet tense about terrifying threats. Human activity is made to seem antlike in comparison with the overwhelming power of the untamed mountain setting of this multifaceted novel. That is not to say that Frazier is insensitive to generosity, undemonstrative kindness and the need to be loved but he does not shrink from a milieu dominated by selfishness, whether it is apathetically venial or downright evil. It is a community indifferent to the rule of law and uninterested in moral certainty. Isolated and backward the locale may be but the tracing of relationships and their motivation is always worked out with insights that resonate in any society. The book is concerned with the nature of truth but also addresses the horrors perpetrated within families, men's attitudes to women and children, casual violence and existential pragmatism that is recognizable in our own society. Whether it is in his poetic descriptions of wild nature, marked over the centuries by human passage, or the seething history of individuals, Frazier seems to suggest that the here and now is very much the product of the past however much we may wish to escape. The characters live; their dialogue is a joy.
My only regret is that I swallowed it too quickly. I shall read it again...and again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely atmospheric Appalachian story, 27 Sep 2011
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Nightwoods (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Part love story, part thriller, this is a hugely atmospheric story set lovingly in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. It's impossible not to get a feeling for the landscape from this book.

If you have read Charles Frazier's "Cold Mountain", or indeed seen the film, then you'll have a fair idea what to expect from his latest offering - "Nightwoods". As with "Cold Mountain", the landscape of the Appalachians is the dominant character, this time set in the 1950s. He even manages to get his requisite bear into the story although thankfully it fares rather better than the unfortunate beast in his first book. The dark, oppressing majesty and beauty of the mountains and woods pervades the whole story.

The story centres around Luce, a loner who lives a reclusive life as the caretaker of an old hunting lodge in North Carolina. Why this young woman has sought the solitude of live on the edge of the lakeside town is explained. It's a sad tale of rural misunderstanding that means that even her father, the local police officer, has no contact with her despite living so close by. When Luce's sister, Lily is murdered, Lily's traumatized twins show up on Luce's doorstep bringing the real world into her life in dramatic ways. The two children don't speak although initially it is unclear if this is a result of their trauma. At around the same time, her benefactor for whom she has been looking after the lodge dies and his grandson comes to the town to check out his inheritance.

The darker element of the story arises when Lily's ex-husband is freed by the court of her murder and, convinced that there is a missing horde of cash which surely the children have, he too arrives in the town.

The book is, then, something of both a romance and a thriller. Trust is hard won in Frazier's rural North Carolina. The development of the relationship between both Luce and the twins, who at first are hell bent on setting everything alight, and Luce and the grandson is slowly drawn out. Initially they are unaware of the threats that present themselves in the form of Lily's ex-husband Bud, but all that is about to change.

The story-telling is convincing but what is most evident is the love for the landscape. In Frazier's novels, often the characters have more communication with the landscape than with each other and this is again true here. Some of the descriptions are beautiful, but if you are looking for a fast paced story, as the basis of this book might lead you to expect, you will be disappointed. Things seldom happen fast in Frazier's books.

Rather, the story simmers along and the sense of drama slowly engulfs the reader like a mountain fog moving down a valley. It has heaps of atmosphere and texture.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars if you go down to the woods yesterday, 31 Jan 2013
By 
mfl (london) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Nightwoods (Paperback)
There's a good argument that Hollywood can taint an author as much as elevate. So having reached the heady heights of cinematic glory from novel one, how does Charles Frazier now read some years later with novel three? And how much will he be judged by newcomers on the back of the monumental to the masses success of Cold Mountain or indeed by the committed Frazier fans? Seems a manageable stone either way.

For this newcomer at least, Frazier is actually much better, so much better, than Jude Law would have you believe...

Nightwoods is all classic American literature. There's as much poetry in the sparsest prose as the unforgiving landscape has natural beauty in the backdrop of the Appalachians in the 1950's. Factor in the broken American dream, the family and society disenfranchisement, the small town lives and loves; big empty hearts in big empty places, both beating strong and steady.

For those looking for a story, it's all hung on a lonely spinster inheriting damaged twins in a lodge she neither owns nor loves, haunted by a past and present nasty hicksville brother in law bent on justifying his life by violence and jealousy. Probably story seekers may still just get bored and irritable by the lack of pace and gun ho. Fair enough but Nightwoods is not a roller coaster ride and it's not intended to be; for the patient, sit back and watch its fire slowly crackle and burn down to see sparks enough.

Nightwoods is a deeply thoughtful novel but for all its subtle crackle won't quite set the world alight. What it does is confirm Charles Frazier as one of the finer chroniclers of American life and, hopefully, a fan base that will follow the ride.

Certainly this one won't be for everyone so don't be swayed by reviewers who found it too dull. It's far from it and in a small but important way, a vigorously lazy vibrant cold night life affirmer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never written anything as good as Cold Mountain..., 15 Sep 2012
By 
Charles Tryon (BATH, AVON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Nightwoods (Paperback)
Many authors have a really great first book, Charles Frasier did with Cold Mountain it was sensational. His second simply did not work for me, and likewise, although better, Nightwoods did not work for me. The whole premise of these disturbed kids and a woman on her own trying to 'fit' with them just did not fuse together. The lead character exudes no warmth, which made me struggle with her relationship with the kids, even quite a way into the book. The tertiary characters whilst interesting did not get enough page time to develop fully, and this left me feeling that the book could have done with an additional 100 pages or so. Strange really as most books need editing down. Of course you may disagree, give it a go by all means, just don't expect it o blow you away.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, 9 Aug 2012
This review is from: Nightwoods (Paperback)
Charles Frazier is a wonderful writer -- I don't believe there are more than five, and perhaps fewer than that, of his quality currently writing in English. The story is compelling, the descriptions telling, the characters real and convincing. This is one of those rare books that, when you finish it, stay with you as a fully formed experience. At the end of the novel I know Luce, I know Lit, I know Stubblefield, I know Bud. And as for the children...even now,having had the experience, I find it hard to believe that Frazier formed so much with so little. A wonderful book. The only thing I have to say against it is that I've read it now, so I cannot know that haunting first knowledge of a strange (to me) world ever again. I look forward to his next book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gentler Type of Cormac McCarthy, 28 July 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Nightwoods (Paperback)
After the phenomenal success of "Cold Mountain", the odyssey of a soldier's return from the American Civil War, it must be hard for Charles Frazier to achieve comparable success.

Although on a much smaller scale, "Nightwoods" is similar in showing Frazier's gift for spinning a yarn and displaying his deep knowledge of and love for the Appalachian wilderness combined with a sense of small town life in a rural backwater, portrayed with some sharp, witty dialogue and an ability to make unsavoury or even evil characters appear at times in some ways objects of sympathy.

It is sometime round 1960 when Gene Pitney was a rising popstar on the juke box. Luce is a tough young woman who is for some reason living in isolation from the town visible across the lake from the old lodge which she looks after for an old landowner called Stubblefield. Her hard but peaceful routine is disrupted by the appearance of "the stranger children", in fact the badly damaged young twins of her brutally murdered sister Lily. Luce's psychopathic brother -in-law Bud has a particular reason for tracking down these children. Meanwhile, following Stubblefield's death, his ne'er- do- well heir comes back to claim the inheritance. This is clearly the basis for a potentially tense thriller.

I was rapidly sucked in by not only the plot, but also the vivid, poetical descriptions of the mountainous wilderness of North Carolina, the sense of past history back even before the time of the Indians, the survival of a self-sufficient rural way of life, the neglected lodge - a vestige of the wealthy tourists from bygone days - and the inward-looking life of the small town enveloped in the backwoods with only tenuous road connections to the outside world.

Always a page turner, although some reviewers have found it slow at times, the story is never quite predictable since you know that Frazier is capable of including sudden acts of unexpected brutality and horror cheek by jowl with quite soft-centred or even sentimental passages.

Although I was a little disappointed by Frazier's handling of the plot from the point where Luce meets Bud face-to-face, since I thought that the potential drama often fell rather flat, this was offset by some unexpected twists, and I suspect that Frazier is really more interested in reflecting on the effects of "modern progress" and exploring the human psyche than he is in structuring a story. The final pages in practice prove quite tense.

Another slight reservation is that both Luce and Stubblefield Jnr. seem to undergo some rather rapid changes of attitude, but in a relatively short and spare novel perhaps we have to "take this as given" to leave space for Frazier's other ideas.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best writing to be found anywhere: Nightwoods, 9 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Nightwoods (Paperback)
I approached Nightwoods with some caution: Cold Mountain was, I thought, unbeatable. Thirteen Moons, bit of a side trip. Thankfully Nightwoods was everything I hoped for: the wry humour, excellent dialogue, the quality of the writing. The oblique approach is something of a rarity in days when trauma of any kind is dwelt on and exposed forensically under arc lights to the reader. This book is more about survival, strength, and the great healing power of the natural world. I loved it from start to finish. Thank you Charles Frazier.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Nightwoods
Nightwoods by Charles Frazier (Hardcover - 27 Sep 2011)
14.46
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews