The Night Villa by Carol Goodman is a fabulous piece of contemporary fiction peppered with historical and mythical references combined with scholarly wit and mixed with a bit of mystery then add to that a dash of romance. The combination is a winning recipe that will keep readers glued to the pages. A fantastic and complex novel. Very intellectually written. The Night Villa is reminiscent of great literary classics yet still light enough to be enjoyed by the masses.
The Night Villa starts out with Professor Sophie Chase dealing with and living through another unexpected tragedy in her life. A crazed and jealous student storms a meeting at the university and kills two of her colleagues and leaves her suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
While Sophie recovers we are introduced to her and her life through hallucinations, memories, and thoughts of her past. We are fully ingrained into Sophie’s life, her painful past. The reader will realize this is another painful event Sophie must get through. We learn some of her hang ups, fears, weaknesses and obsessions which include Sophie still being obsessed with her ex Ely who ran off to be in some weird cult five years ago and her fascination with a Roman slave girl who lived almost 2000 years ago and probably perished when Mount Vesuvius erupted. And you thought you had issues? With the insightful retrospection we are shown that Sophie has a hard time letting go of the past. How much of the past still remains to haunt her will be shown throughout the novel in various ways. Sophie’s world is full of signs, portents and clues.
The story starts out in Texas where Sophie works at the University of Texas, where she was shot. Yearning to get out that place she is invited to be a part of the Project led by Professor Elgin Lawrence, another of Sophie’s past love interests. She jumps at the chance because the villa being excavated turns out to be where her Roman slave girl lived 200o years ago…at the bottom of Mt. Vesuvius.
Throughout the story themes of learning from the past and being able to read the signs around you abound, though Sophie has a hard time seeing what’s right in front of her face…as we all tend to do. Added to that people are never who they seem and she really doesn’t know who to turn to or trust. Her past and her emotions blind her to the truth and put her in danger.
Gripping, intellectual and historically mysterious. This book will keep you reading until the very end. If you are a history buff and/or love old Roman mythology this book is for you. Roman mythology, ancient religions, historical references and accounts blend seamlessly in this modern tale and make you want to visit Italy yourself…even if the air conditioning sucks and it’s hotter than hell.
The eruption of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 buried a city and its people, including their treasures and secrets. Classics professor Sophie Chase travels to the beautiful island of Capri in to unravel the secrets of one unusual household, immersing herself in a culture simultaneously fascinating and frightening.
Beneath layers of volcanic ash lies the Villa della Notte, home to first-century nobles who engaged in pagan rituals and a slave girl named Iusta whose life may have ended during the eruption—or may have helped to alter the course of Italy’s religious history. As Sophie and her team piece together Iusta’s story, they unearth a subterranean labyrinth and a set of invaluable antique documents believed lost to the ages. But for both women, suspicion, fear, and danger lurk in the tunnels and chambers beneath the estate. As Iusta races to escape Vesuvius’s impending fury, Sophie rushes to uncover what happened to Iusta before all traces of her life disappear—or are erased.