I have just discovered Luanne Rice. It’s not that I hadn’t heard of her, just that I hadn’t read her. She is not to be missed.
LITTLE NIGHT takes place in NYC, present day. You can tell Rice has spent time here. Her depictions of the flora are unheralded. I have never experienced a bog. But I feel as if I have after reading LITTLE NIGHT. And who would have thought a bog lived and breathed near NYC? She brings it all to life in her new novel.
I was surprised to find that Rice has been a victim of domestic abuse, herself. And this story is surrounded with domestic abuse. And its aftermath. How entire families are affected when one abusive person is allowed into the inner sanctum of a family. Rice is able to bring us this tenderly told tale with gentleness and make it real because she has experienced abuse firsthand.
In 1993 Clare Burke is imprisoned for the attempted murder of her sister’s abusive husband. He is the one who should have been charged. After all, he was strangling his wife. Even his children were watching. But, as things so often go in abusive relationships, the abused ends up siding with and protecting the abuser. It is fear fueling the fire that never ends. Hence, Clare’s story begins.
This is a story of family. It’s what happens to the entire family when abuse is involved. No one escapes.
NYC is a character in this story. And so is nature and birding. Luanne has certainly done her homework here. I admire the research she did to bring this story to life. I learned so much about the birds that populate the NYC area. Who would know this? It shows a new and more grounded side of Rice.
This novel, more than any other of hers, tells a story that isn’t pretty. It is much more serious than her other books. You can tell she is pulling from her heart and soul. And it will resonate and be bothersome to plenty of readers. It is going to bring attention to its subject matter. That is all good.
The relationships are each complicated. And each are dealt with uniquely and smartly. The ending was a definite surprise to me. A knock-out.
I look forward to anything else from this ever-strengthening author. And I thank the wonderful crew at Viking for my gorgeous finished hard cover!