The Night Villa: A Novel

The Night Villa - Carol Goodman Carol Goodman's "The Night Villa" was an enjoyable read for me because of how it presents two very different stories of different times into one majestic coat. One of the stories focuses on Sophie, a University of Texas Classics professor, who recovers in the aftermath of a tragic school shooting in which not only some of her colleagues are killed, but she is injured as well. In her recovery, she travels to Mount Vesuvius in Italy as a part of an extensive research project translating stories/accounts about a slave girl named Iusta. Yet, as Sophie digs further into the centuries old controversy, she finds a dark tale of deceit and treachery not only brewing in the pages of the translated manuscripts, but also suspected among members of her own team, including a former lover who seems to hang over her with the shadow of a former cult. I think "The Night Villa" continues in its strength of Goodman's previous works with illuminating prose, strong parallel stories, and an evocative sense of place and time. I would say it fares better than the likes of "The Sonnet Lover" and "Arcadia Falls" because it doesn't have redundancy issues and the primary character, Sophie, seems to have a much stronger demeanor than the leading characters of the aforementioned books. I liked how this book also creates a strong parallel narrative with its respective love stories, both in Iusta's era (79 A.D.) and in the present with Sophie and her relationships. I also liked the overall mystery in the book - the story kept me reading with respect to whom the culprits were behind the unexpected accidents/deaths that wove themselves through the work, though when the resolution comes, it does come a bit quick.The only issue that occurred for me in "The Night Villa" was something that I've seen in Goodman's novels in latter context with respect to flow. There are times when the plot/conflict may not be as apparent in each chapter, but it reads quite smoothly. I liked the references to Italian culture, history, and especially the mythology, but I don't think it bears as strong of a connection as some of Goodman's works do (i.e. "The Lake of Dead Languages", "The Seduction of Water", and "The Drowning Tree". Still, I think the connection was strong enough for me to find "Night Villa" an immersible read, and one I'd gladly read again.Overall score: 3/5