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Thanksgiving Night: A Novel Paperback – October 30, 2007

2.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A house in Point Royal, Va., serves to entangle two families in clannish chaos. When local handyman Oliver Ward is summoned for a job at the house of Holly Grey and her aunt Fiona, he has no idea what to make of the two squabbling, headstrong old ladies who want to divide—literally—their house in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The two are known as "the Crazies" by Holly's son, bookstore owner Will Butterfield, and his wife, high school teacher Elizabeth, who are growing weary of their antics. But they pay Oliver, who begins working at the ladies' house. Oliver's daughter, policewoman and single mother Alison, is later called in to help talk Holly off the roof during a drunken dispute. Meanwhile, Will's grown children, Mark and Gail, from his first marriage (to another Elizabeth, who abandoned the family) are in disagreement over whether they should hunt down their long-gone mother. There are digressions: Gail's sexual identity is an open question; Elizabeth's students are fractious; Will finds himself tempted by a sexy, none-too-stable bartender. When Oliver has a stroke on the job, the two families are thrown together at Holly and Fiona's as the Thanksgiving holiday draws nigh. Author of nine novels and five story collections, Bausch (Wives & Lovers) engages stock characters and a predictable theme of holiday forgiveness this time out, but he injects some crackle into the heartwarming elements. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Bausch’s engagingly deranged characters hold our attention . . . in one of his more interesting and readable longer fictions.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Beautifully told. ... Bausch supplies plenty to go around, just as one would wish on any Thanksgiving night. ” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

“It’s a subtle, slyly accomplished feat, and Bausch brings his disparate storylines together in a powerfully moving finale.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“Kooky relatives, drunken antics, and near-death experiences are fodder enough for three tomes. For this, we are thankful.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Bracing, unapologetically old-fashioned. Bausch’s novel is also filled with sudden displays of emotion.” (New York Times Book Review)

“(A) satisfying feast of a book that feels authentic and wise.” (Washington Post Book World)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060094443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060094447
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,813,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Christopher Wilson on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Great Read! Couldn't wait to see what happened next to the crazy but loveable characters of Point Royal, Virginia. With Bausch's attention to detail and the myriad of events, you will know them all intimately by the time the turkey is served for Thanksgiving dinner. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book and enjoy it with your pumpkiin pie!
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The overview of the story line sounded very interesting. That's the end of my positive comments. This book could have been written with half the pages and half the descriptive verbiage. It was excessively wordy, the subplot with the Father & his Curate didn't flow well into the story. The whole thing was way too long, boring and the ending was totally flat. I don't often throw in the towel on a book -- and was reading this for my book group, so stuck it out for the first 200 pages thinking things would change. Then, I decided to try reading at least the last two chapters, and gave up on that .... and skipped to the last half of the last chapter, just to see if there was a conclusive ending. Not. I would definitely NOT recommend this book.
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I enjoyed Richard Bausch's short stories immensely. He is a true master at capturing the moments of grace and humanity in true-to-life situations and presenting that slice of life within a short story.

Sadly this does not translate well into a more prolonged form like this novel. There were many characters jostling to take centre stage in this book, and they look interesting enough to be expanded on, and the end result is dispersed bits and storylines that try to weave themselves together.

There is the pair of eccentric old ladies who cannot live with or without the other, unaffectionately called the Crazies by one of the ladies' son, Will Butterfield, a bookstore owner who has a seemingly perfect marriage with school teacher Elizabeth at the beginning of the novel. Oliver Ward, a building contractor and his single-parent/police officer daughter Alison. Throw in a disillusioned priest who is an old friend of the old ladies, and Butterfield's discontented children from his previous marriage, a mysterious sexy new neighbor who tempts straight-laced Will, and you have the beginnings of a middle-class neighborhood soap opera about suburban discontent that culminate in some denouement in the Thanksgiving scene.

The predictability of the plot is somewhat salvaged by the fine writing, and the descriptions of the neighborhood that sets the scene for each part of the novel (demarcated by the months leading up to Nov of 1999). The premise of the approaching catastrophic millennium is hinted at and then clumsily abandoned, which makes one feel Bausch shouldn't try to do a DeLillo.

A pity, because this novel would have done well if they were short stories that examined the lives of some of these characters or showed a part of their lives. The whole, alas, is less than the sum of its parts for this novel.
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Format: Paperback
On the back of this book, Bausch's writing is compared to that of Raymond Carver, and I can see that as a valid comparison. The characters, like Carver's, are not ones with which the reader can form attachments. They are flawed, and this book is really a story of how relationships don't quite work, like spluttering, misfiring engines that manage to run, but the trip with them isn't pretty, efficient, or elegant. The novel's conclusion is more of a stopping point than an ending to the story.

The writing is not, as described on the book cover, minimalist. The prose flows well, but this is not a quick read. At almost 400 pages, it required some time for me. It wasn't a work that I didn't want to put down, and I didn't find myself wanting to read large chunks at a time. I didn't find the situation with the "Crazies" as humorous as I thought it might be. The relationships between characters were all pretty depressing, and there was little levity to break the mood.

Overall, not a holiday book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Thanksgiving Night was my second Thanksgiving book I was going to read and well...I just couldn't finish it. It is not like it was absolutely terrible and I hated it per say. It is more that I found it really boring I would fall asleep trying to read it. I will not give up on a book until I have read at least half of it, and this book being 400 pages I read over 200 before it was due back at the library and I just had to call it quits. It was taking me forever to get anywhere in it, though I don't think it was a terrible book. The writing was fine and everything. It was just, as I said, a bit boring to me.

Part of the problem with this book? I didn't like any of the characters. I really didn't like the crazies, Holly & Fiona, and got tired of reading about them fighting. It was tedious and I just didn't care. Really I wanted everyone to just leave them and not give them the attention they are looking for. Will and Elizabeth should just not answer the phone or go over when they are arguing, which is always. It just...I didn't understand. I didn't like them and it made me tired reading their same nonsense over and over and over again. Elizabeth is starting to tire of them, but I would have not been able to put up with it as long as she has.

Then you have Oliver who makes lots of poor decisions. He can't seem to not drink too much then drive even though he doesn't really seem to be an alcoholic or anything. His daughter is not very happy, Father Fire is not very happy, really no one in the story is very happy. They are all a mess, unhappy, and not great people. It just seems to go on and on and on and nothing really happens. Or it does, but it is written in such a way that I don't really care much. Like Will cheating, or contemplating, cheating on his wife.
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