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The Night Villa: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Carol Goodman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

An evocative tale of intrigue, romance, and treachery, Carol Goodman’s spellbinding new novel, The Night Villa, follows the fascinating lives of two remarkable women centuries apart.

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. But suspicion, fear, and danger roam the long-untrodden tunnels and chambers beneath the once sumptuous estate–especially after Sophie sees the face of her former lover in the darkness, leaving her to wonder if she is chasing shadows or succumbing to the siren song of the Night Villa. Whatever shocking events transpired in the face of Vesuvius’s fury have led to deeper, darker machinations that inexorably draw Sophie into their vortex, rich in stunning revelations and laden with unseen menace.

Praise for The Night VIlla:

“Visit The Night Villa: Carol Goodman’s luminous prose and superb storytelling will keep you entertained into the late hours.”
–Nancy Pickard

“The pleasure of a Carol Goodman novel is in her enviable command of the classical canon–and the deft way she [writes] a book that’s light enough for a weekend on the beach but literary enough for a weekend in the Hamptons.”
–Chicago Tribune


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this complex and lyrical literary thriller from Goodman (The Sonnet Lover), University of Texas classics professor Sophie Chase, after barely surviving a gunman with ties to a sinister cult, joins an expedition to Capri. A donor has funded both the exact reconstruction of a Roman villa destroyed when Mount Vesuvius buried nearby Herculaneum in A.D. 79, and a computer system that can decipher the charred scrolls being excavated from the villa's ruins. Sophie's hopes for a recuperative idyll fade after her old boyfriend, who disappeared years before into the same cult as the campus gunman, appears in the area, implicating the cult in a criminal conspiracy. Meanwhile, extracts from the scrolls—the journals of a Roman visiting the villa just before the volcano erupted—shade toward bloodshed and betrayal. The scrolls' oddly modern tone aside, Goodman deftly mixes cultural and religious history, geography, myth, personal memory, dream and even portent without sacrificing narrative drive, against the beautiful backdrop of the locale with its echoes of unimaginable loss. 5-city author tour.(Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Goodman has made a name for herself writing elegant literary thrillers. Her newest follows the template of The Sonnet Lover (2007), as Sophie Chase, a classics professor at the University of Texas, researches the fate of Petronia Iusta, a slave girl living in Capri in AD 79, the year Vesuvius erupted. After the boyfriend of one her students goes on a shooting rampage, leaving two dead and Sophie wounded, the handsome but rakish professor Elgin Lawrence convinces Sophie to travel to Capri to translate the scrolls of a Roman writer named Phineas Aulus. After all, evidence suggests that Petronia was at the Villa della Notte at the same time as Phineas. Upon arriving, she is soon drawn into a dangerous conspiracy when she encounters an ex-lover and learns that the Tetraktyans, a cult that worships Pythagoras, are equally interested in the scrolls—and will stop at nothing to get them. Graceful, fluid prose; an intricately plotted dual mystery set in the past and present; a strong heroine; and handsome and mysterious men—all combine to make for a thoroughly scintillating read. --Kristine Huntley

Product Details

  • File Size: 471 KB
  • Print Length: 434 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345479602
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 5, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0017SWQWO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,094 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
THE NIGHT VILLA, award-winning author Carol Goodman's sixth novel, begins with a tragic shooting on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. It involves the jealous ex-boyfriend of student Agnes Hancock, who opens fire on a classroom filled with students and teachers, and ends up taking two lives before turning the gun on himself. Injured in the attack is Dr. Sophie Chase, who bravely attempted to thwart shooter Dale Henry and ends up being shot in the chest, causing serious damage to her lungs.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, Dr. Elgin Lawrence puts together a team of experts (archaeologists, historians, theologians and a student) to travel to Italy as part of a project sponsored by a philanthropic billionaire. Dubbed the Papyrus Project, it revolves around the use of new spectrograph technology that allows ancient scrolls to be scanned and interpreted. The texts in question are located in the Villa della Notte --- the Night Villa --- and had been buried under centuries of ash and debris following the devastating eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

The narrator, and main focus, of THE NIGHT VILLA is Dr. Sophie Chase, and her reason for participating in the excavation is not just to escape the tragic campus shooting. Sophie also leaves behind the memory of her former lover, Ely Markowitz, who she has lost to his obsession with the Tetraktys, a cult that worships and follows the teaching of Pythagoras. The ritual of becoming a full-fledged Tetrakty consists of immersion at one of their communes and a five-year vow of total silence with no communication to the outside world. With Ely all but lost to Sophie forever, she has renewed interest in joining the Papyrus Project.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Goodman's mojo missing in action March 2, 2009
Format:Paperback
The first mystery about this novel is why the heroine is called Cory Chase on the back cover but Sophie Chase in the book. ( A late change of name? I bought my copy in Australia). The second is why Carol Goodman has lost her mojo.

I enjoyed Goodman's earlier novels which were set in the American Gothic genre similar to that of Donna Tartt (if not as morally complex). They created detailed imaginary worlds which were just real enough to be believable and the characters were engaging and at times moving. The Ghost Orchid and the Drowning Tree were particularly outstanding. But Goodman seems to have been seduced by the Chick-lit/Summer in Provence school of writing and has abandoned what she knows for fanciful, annoying stories set in idyllic Italian settings. The Sonnet Lover with its Italian lover, shopping trips, and travelogue style writing was plain depressing. In this story many of the elements are similar - academic with tragic love story seizes opportunity to go to Italy and solves historical mystery - but it is even weaker.

It is hard to believe that Goodman taught the classics as she makes historical errors and almost laughable assumptions about archaeology in Pompeii which will frustrate readers who are actually intersted in Pompeii's history. This could be forgiven if the story was enthralling but sadly it isn't. It has the feeling of a book written in a hurry to meet a contractual obligation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most exciting romantic thriller August 7, 2008
Format:Paperback
Prolific writer, Carol Goodman, has created another exciting page-turner in The Night Villa. The villa of the novel is located in the Italian (Roman) village of Herculaneum that was destroyed in 79 A.D. by the same volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried the city of Pompeii. In the novel, Classics scholar Professor Sophie Chase is recruited as a member of an expedition to help translate ancient Greek and/or Latin scrolls that have been found at an archeological site-the Night Villa which is named for a statue of a night goddess that was found there.

Since this book encompasses ancient history, there are many references to the historical eruption of the volcano and what happened because of it. The scrolls were written by a traveler who visits the villa in his quest to study various pagan religious rites and celebrations. At least that is what the scholars initially believe. However, it seems he was also interested in a philosophy that the ancient mathematician, Pythagoras developed. There are also some fairly graphic descriptions of erotic artwork and unusual sexual practices and rites.

The Night Villa is also a romantic thriller. Therefore it is not surprising that the heroine, Sophie, has romantic history with other characters-both the good guys and the bad. There is also a subplot romance involving an ancient slave girl and the traveler. The slave girl had been the subject of Sophie's doctoral thesis and remained a point of strong interest. The liaisons between various members of the study expedition add to the intrigue that develops from the very first chapter of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I could hardly put it down to deal with more mundane activities, like work or sleeping. Its literary style would make it an excellent book club choice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars engaging academic thriller August 7, 2008
Format:Paperback
University of Texas Classics Professor Dr. Sophie Chase knows she is fortunate to be alive when cultist Dale Henry, ex boyfriend of promising classics student Agnes Hancock, starts firing a gun at those attending an interview. Although shook up, Sophie joins a special reenactment in Capri. John Lyros is sponsoring the rebuilding of an exact replica of a Herculaneum villa and will use an information technology program to interpret the burnt scrolls that somewhat have been salvaged from the volcanic ruins.

However, Sophie's Italian dig turns sinister when her former boyfriend Ely, who vanished five years ago apparently into the same cult as Dale joined, sends her a message by returning a book he borrowed from her. Meanwhile a scroll found amidst the ruins written by a visiting Roman insists the NIGHT VILLA was a place for blood, sex and duplicity. In the labyrinth below the city, Sophie will find much of the same as what happened to a free woman in 79 AD.

This is an engaging academic thriller with a delightful link between modern day archeology and the Ancient World; mostly through the scrolls. Sophie is a terrific lead player holding together the two prime parts of the novel while she and her cohorts dig into the past at the same time struggling to survive the present. Fans will enjoy Carole Goodman's fine tale and seek her previous literary mystery, (THE SONNET LOVER.

Harriet Klausner
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous
Another intriguing book by Carol Goodman. Her writing is definitely addicting. This story unfolds under the tragedies of today's world against the tragedy from history. Read more
Published 15 months ago by joyfully centered
4.0 out of 5 stars Leisurely Pace But A Pleasure to Read
Two recurrent themes in Carol Goodman's books are women in academia and stories set in the present day but with echoes of past times. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Brett H
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great novel by Carol goodman
I love her writing! I can't put it down once I start. I felt like I was at the excavation site experiencing what the characters were going through.
Published 23 months ago by Jana
4.0 out of 5 stars A master of weaving the past and present.
This was the first Carol Goodman book I read. This book certainly made me want to read more of her work, and I have yet to be disappointed by her seemingly seamless melding of... Read more
Published on November 6, 2012 by chris
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story
I loved this book and didn't see the twist coming at the end. The only thing that would have improved this is a deeper explanation/understanding of the time period. Read more
Published on August 3, 2011 by Bren
4.0 out of 5 stars the Night Villa by Carol Goodman
The plot of the Night Villa concerns an archeological dig to find writings of Pythagorus and the lost diary of a slave girl, Lusta, who lived in ancient Pompei, in the time of the... Read more
Published on April 6, 2011 by Adriannah
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
Other than the ancient scrolls being written in what seems to be a rather modern tone, this book was a wonderful read! I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent reading this book.
Published on March 27, 2011 by CT
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite C. Goodman Book
I have read most of Carol Goodman's books and this is my favorite so far. I almost gave up on her after "The Drowning Tree," but "The Night Villa" is wonderful. Read more
Published on March 6, 2011 by K. Young
3.0 out of 5 stars So much potential, such a letdown
I kept thinking this book would get better. But from the beginning I couldn't connect with any of the major characters. Most of them are so shifty, are they good, are they bad? Read more
Published on August 19, 2010 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars "Ghost roots"
Author Carol Goodman has a well-earned reputation for smart thrillers featuring smart women. The Night Villa sticks to the same mold. Read more
Published on August 16, 2010 by Linda Bulger
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More About the Author

Carol Goodman graduated from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin. After teaching Latin for several years, she studied for an MFA in Fiction. Her writing has been published in a number of literary magazines. She currently teaches writing and works as a writer-in-residence. She lives in Long Island, USA.

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No Hardback version
I still have not been able to find the answer to this myself. I have all of her novels in hardcover except this one, and the OCD side of me really wishes there were a hard back version to make the books look more symmetrical on the shelf.
Oct 15, 2009 by Carlton D. Fisher |  See all 2 posts
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