The Night Villa
Author: Carol Goodman
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 5, 2008)
The eruption of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 buried a city and its people, their treasures and secrets. Centuries later, echoes of this disaster resonate with profound consequences in the life of classics professor Sophie Chase.
In the aftermath of a tragic shooting on the University of Texas campus, Sophie seeks sanctuary on the isle of Capri, immersing herself in her latest scholarly project alongside her colleagues, her star pupil, and their benefactor, the compelling yet enigmatic business mogul John Lyros.
Beneath layers of volcanic ash lies the Villa della Notte–the Night Villa–home to first-century nobles, as well as to the captivating slave girl at the heart of an ancient controversy. And secreted in a subterranean labyrinth rests a cache of antique documents believed lost to the ages: a prize too tantalizing for Sophie to resist.
Simply put, I found The Night Villa profound, poetic and pretty damn interesting. The history is breathtaking, the mystery equally so and the characters, who bring it all together, are an enigma wrapped within a puzzle within a conundrum.
With intricate plotting, Goodman spins a story of a woman struggling to rise above the circumstances that's echoed simultaneously in the past and in the present. Buried cities containing centuries old secrets, a secret society, modern cults, ancient philosophies twisted by time, hidden chambers and a pervading atmosphere of lust and depravity - all brought to stunning life in words that are almost lyrical in their description and spooky in their effect, making this an unforgettable story.
The author permeates the tale with so many red herrings it's difficult to predict who're the good guys and who are not, and I especially loved this. Although I must admit, I guessed one facet of the mystery pretty early on in the game, but that's because I've read too many mysteries and become slightly cynical when it comes to characters. The historical part of the mystery is one thing I could not even begin to guess at, and it was really good getting to see a city full of secrets emerging from its coffin of volcanic remains. Yes, Goodman's words are that evocative, you can almost feel yourself choking in the ash or feel the awe of seeing a mysterious, long-forgotten ritual.
This is the first Carol Goodman novel I've read and I'm so glad this fantastic novel was my introduction to this talented author. I can't wait to read her other books - The Sonnet Lover, The Lake of Dead Languages, etc.
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To visit the Publisher, go here.
Ballantine is giving away one copy of this book to a lucky reader.
Giveaway ends midnight CST of August 26th.
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