The Night Villa Paperback – 1 Oct 2009
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'An entertaining summer read...atmospheric and smartly put together collegiate mystery' INDEPENDENT 'Goodman's story is elegantly written, unfolding in an atmosphere redolent of the scents and heat of a Tuscan summer' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
A mysterious and tantalising tale of two remarkable women - living centuries apart . . .See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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 Also involved in the mix is a shadowy, secret organisation who are seeking to recover an important historical document thought to be buried in the villa and Sophie, who is relating the story, finds it increasingly difficult to know who, amongst her colleagues, she is able to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.
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)
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.
Carol Goodman's books are always enjoyable, but this is one of her best, an intelligent blend of history, myth and mystery. I couldn't put it down, and now I'm more determined than ever to visit Naples and the Roman cities nearby. Which must mean she conveyed both the tenseness and setting of the novel very well!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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.Published on 9 Feb. 2014 by MJ Mason
Having read Pompeii, this book fills in some of the gaps. Excellent Book worth reading if you like Italy. Buy it.Published on 14 Dec. 2013 by Jo Watson
As this is an Xmas present and what was requested I am sure it will please the person who is to receive this.Published on 12 Dec. 2013 by Vickie Dyson