I could sum up the important points of the entire plot in one paragraph. But I don't want to give everything away.
Luce, who is the caretaker of an isolated, abandoned lodge in the mountains of North Carolina, has just inherited her sister's young twins. Their mother has been brutally murdered, and the twins haven't spoken a word since. They have also developed a fondness for setting things on fire.
Luce has no experience with children, and certainly not those as troubled as Dolores and Frank. But she does a good job teaching them the ways of her simple life. When her sister's husband, who is also the murderer, is acquitted, he decides to come after the children. His wife, Luce's sister, hid a lot of money and he believes the children must have it.
Bud, the murderer, weaves his way into the small, nearby town and makes a friend in the local law man who he doesn't realize is Luce's estranged father.
Meanwhile, since his uncle died and left the lodge and other assets to him, Stubblefield decides to go see the property he has inherited. So Stubblefield builds a relationship with Luce and ends up mixed up in all the troubles.
The language is what makes Nightwoods tolerable. The descriptions, analogies, and turns of phrase sometimes take your breath away or leave you chuckling. The characters are vivid, and everything that happens to them is described as if you are looking at a photograph.
However, nothing much happens. The last twenty percent is the entire story. The rest of the book is just a huge amount of build up.
Unfortunately the narration didn't help me with this one. I immediately recognized the narrator, Will Patton, from the audiobook of The Raven Boys which I didn't like very much. I just didn't like the book; Patton's narration was fine. So once I forgot about that, I still had problems. I hate southern drawls. I can hardly watch a movie with Matthew McConaughey in it because of his drawl, and that's what this reminded me of. And most of Patton's "S's" whistled. It drove me crazy. So, I didn't like the voice, although he did use good inflection and differentiated the points of view well. The book takes place in North Carolina, so the drawl is appropriate, I just don't like it. It's a personal thing.
Nightwoods is beautifully written. It's interesting, but not exciting. It's a character study with an exceptionally described setting. If you like those kinds of stories, give it a try.
Published by Random House, 2011, Random House Audio
Copy obtained from the library
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