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The Night Villa

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,616 Ratings  ·  306 Reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 434 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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The fact that the book was about archeological digs, the ancient world, religious cults and long lost scrolls could have done it, but honestly, I'm not sure what it was that wrapped me up in this book so much. The book doesn't delve very deeply in emotions, but it certainly could have with all the tumultuous events that take place in it. The ending was a bit cliche, and the pace of the story flew by, but the girl did her homework, for sure. In the end, I can't decide whether to call this book a ...more
Sep 13, 2010 Helga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to write like Carol Goodman.

I don't know how she does it: her writing evokes a response from the reader, making it very easy to visualize the scenery and action. So far, I've read Seduction of Water, Ghost Orchid, Night Villa and currently reading Arcadia Falls. The stories are fascinating and can hold your interest; they are hard to put down but we all have lives to live.

With Night Villa being set in Italy, Goodman describes the locale in such detail that I feel like I've visited the di
Jul 11, 2009 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book in a day and a half. It's obvious to say, after my last sentence, that I had some trouble putting it down once I started it. I've had this on my shelf for many months now even though I've read four of Goodman's other novels and enjoyed them. I'm glad I finally got around to picking it up.

I gave it a 3 star rating not because I didn't find it to be a very enjoyable book, but I did find this novel to be a little more predictable than the others I've read. I also felt I had to
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel has restored my faith in Carol Goodman. I was introduced to her work through the Drowning Tree, which I loved, but then I became more and more disappointed with each of her novels I tracked down after that. This book, though, is terrific, and it really lets her strengths shine.

The basic story is that a classics professor at UT (who makes all sorts of observations that will tickle those who have attended UT or just lived in Austin) witnesses an incident of violence on campus, then she
Jul 25, 2008 Chelsea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Pat
The first quarter or so of this book was well written and intriguing, the next third was atmospheric and dark, and then it turned into the mystery it promised to be and I didn't like it as much. (I forget sometimes - the reason I don't read mysteries, especially the formulaic ones, is because I don't like them.)

The history part was fantastic - lost writings! sacred rites! creepy cults! It was the modern day mystery bit that didn't interest me much. A fun read, and I'm glad it made my friend thin
Elizabeth Sulzby
Sep 12, 2010 Elizabeth Sulzby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical novel is based on a young woman scholar who travels to Herculaneum to work in a team led by a former lover and competitive colleague. This is a thriller and page turner but Goodman described the sources she had used in order to write this book. This led me to J.J. Deiss's excellent book on Herculaneum and what the excavations have taught us. The novel had the main characters looking for evidence of a law suit that was actually (historically) brought against the widow of her forme ...more
Nov 09, 2015 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This is kind of a terrible book. And by kind of, I mean it really was.

I started reading it for the premise...ancient archaeology, travel, mysterious rites, etc. I listen to a lot of "airport reads" on audiobook as an entertaining distraction while I work freelance, so even though I have a background in ancient art and museums, I still enjoy a good page turner every now and then. This book, however, was really poorly done.

From other historical fiction/mystery/thriller type books I've read al
Mar 19, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-read
Dr. Sophie Chase is a classics professor at the University of Texas in Austin who attends an interview as support for a student named Agnes to participate in an archaeological research project on the Isle of Capri in Italy. The interview ends with a tragic shooting in which two people are killed and Sophie is critically injured. After the shooting, Sophie agrees to participate in The Papyrus Project that is funded by a billionaire who has built a villa to mirror the ancient “Night Villa” that wa ...more
Mar 21, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was writing recently about Pythagoras and, in course of what I could grandly call my researches, I came across reference to this novel, which features a modern Pythagorean cult. Since I enjoyed the same author's The Lake of Dead Languages a few years ago, I needed little further inducement to snap this one up.

Sophie Chase is a prof of something antique at the University of Texas. Some while back she lost her boyfriend Ely to the Tetraktys, a neo-Pythagorean cult; matters weren't helped by his
After reading – and thoroughly enjoying The Ghost Orchid – I decided to read another of this author’s books, and The Night Villa did not disappoint in any way.

As was the case in the former book it is actually two stories in one, one of which is taking place in the city of Herculaneum that was destroyed along with the much more famous Roman city of Pompeii in the year 79.

As usual, the author includes numerous thought-provoking – at times deeply disturbing – topics, making this a read likely to
Jul 12, 2009 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having had "The Lake of Dead Languages"recommended to me, but unable to locate a copy before leaving for vacation, I started on "The Night Villa". Ms. Goodman,whose extensive classics background gives depth and meaning to her story, interweaves an ancient story with a modern-day tale. With the use of multi-spectral imaging on papyri,we enter the story of Iusta, a slave at the time of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, whose freedom was assured by her mother, but who became re-enslaved after her mothe ...more
Tony Mac
Solid, passable but unremarkable addition to the cluttered 'academics chase ancient artefacts' school of mystey thrillers. Goodman does solid research and spins a decent if unlikely yarn amid the ruins of Herculanium, buried by Vesuvius in 79AD. She's guilty of presenting slightly one-dimensional characters and lectures a little too much on classical mythology, as if to hide the fact that the book isn't quite as clever as it thinks it is. What is it about authors who telegraph their twists these ...more
Jun 22, 2012 Gretchen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After finishing "The Drowning Tree" I was really looking forward to reading another Carol Goodman novel. I enjoyed The Night Villa" just as much as I enjoyed "The Drowning Tree". Both books were rich wiith references to art, mythology and literature. There were other similarities; both were set in academia and borh had a female lead who had lost a great love in an unexpected way. At first it felt like it might have been too much of the same thing to read one after the other. But, about 100 pages ...more
Aug 06, 2009 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always had a fondness for books that take two distinct story lines from two different times, and eventually intersect in a way you don't expect. This book, my first Carol Goodman novel, was a very satisfying read with its rich descriptions of Italy, now and then, and the weaving of a modern archeology site drama with pre-volcanic Roman villas, "mysterious rites" and intrigue made for a great story. I loved learning more about the Roman time period (right before Vesuvius blows) while being c ...more
Sep 18, 2015 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Night Villa has a lot going for it, including its interconnected stories, but in other areas it falls flat.

This book is story-driven to the detriment of the characters. That isn't necessarily a bad thing if you like story-driven work. Goodman has her story-telling skills down, and the structure of this book is sophisticated with its inter-looping narratives and coincidences that would be a challenge to juggle for someone less organized structurally.

Unfortunately, the characters are caricatur
Apr 05, 2009 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2009
By this point, it's no surprise to me that a Carol Goodman novel is a winner. Rather than trotting out the same comments again, I'll just point you towards my review of The Drowning Tree and say that it sums up how I feel about most everything she writes.
Dec 06, 2010 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sheila by: http://readingwithoutrestraint.blogsp...
A fun, engrossing, fictional historical mystery, set in present day and in historical Herculaneum, Italy at the time of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
I am totally facinated by Italy and historical Italy, and am dreaming of visiting Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Capri myself now.
Mar 25, 2016 Natasha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I felt like it took a really long time for the story to actually pick up. I was about halfway through the book before I finally became actually interested. it's not that the first half is bad, but I felt it had a lot of waffle to get through for the bits of actual story. it might just be that I simply wasn't that interested in the background subject.
It's well written though, with a few twists and turns. I figured some of them out and some not. The ending reminded me a bit too much of one of her
Jun 04, 2015 Cathi95 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
(Fiction 2008) Sophie is a classics professor at the University of Texas. She is chosen to go along on an expedition to unearth the Night Villa, buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the town of Herculaneum. There is really so much going on in this book, from secret societies, murders, strange rites, relationships and Sophie's own very mixed up memories and beliefs, that I spent a lot of time flipping back and forth to understand who was what and where (and when). But overall, it was an inte ...more
Her books have fantastic atmosphere. This novel made me want to drop everything & run off to Capri.
A lot of little things annoyed me about this book. I don't really care for first-person-present-tense. Much of the dialogue was stilted. The whole ancient secret society/cult thing was too Dan Brown-ish (and I didn't like The Da Vinci Code). I found the endless references to Classics and philosophy precocious. The supposedly ancient texts sounded conveniently chatty when translated. But... I kept reading to see how the whole tangled story would be unraveled and to see if my guess about one of th ...more
Apr 21, 2015 Siobhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As expected this complex and intriguing novel drew me in with its mixture of lyrical prose that envelopes my mind's eye in tranquil imagery, and gripping plot developments that have me sitting up straighter and frowning in foreboding anticipation. Few writers whose works I have read manage to maintain a gentle and tranquil atmosphere while simultaneously delivering a captivating and well-paced plot - so far the list extends only to Alice Hoffman and Sara Addison Allen. Since pointing out to myse ...more
Rosario (
The Night Villa was my introduction to author Carol Goodman, who's got a fair few books which sound like just my sort of thing. The set-up here is my catnip: interesting location and parallel storylines set in the past and the present, with the latter including an investigation into the former.

The book starts out in Texas, where Classics professor Dr. Sophie Chase has the misfortune of being in the room when a student's jealous ex comes looking for her with a gun. Sophie is injured in the ensui
Feb 21, 2016 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I thought this book would fly by as have other books I've read by Goodman. Maybe it was because I read it during my wedding weekend and often at night after I'd had champagne or wine, but I just couldn't get into it. I kept having to go back and re-read parts of it. I didn't really feel invested in the discoveries at Herculaneum. Why did I care about a 17-year-old slave who probably died in 79 AD? Why did I care about Ely or Elgin? Or Simon, for that matter. The characters were pretty weak and m ...more
Apr 12, 2014 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Spring is in full swing in Malta, where I live and the truly welcoming rays of my beloved summer have already been felt by yours truly so after reading the very wintry ahemWinterisComingahem Game of Thrones (mind-blowing amazing nonetheless) I needed a summery holiday read.

I've had 'The Night Villa' by Carol Goodman on my TBR shelf for a few months but when I reread the synopsis it made me think of summer, archaeological digs and the beautiful country of Italy especially the regions
Dec 30, 2010 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, mystery
I enjoyed this book, for the most part, right up until the ending, which seemed to me as if the author had either given up, or was rushing to meet a deadline.


Case in point: Sophie, the scholar, steals a scroll from a dig and suffers no consequences. The theft and reading of the scroll serves its purpose of moving the story forward and then are never mentioned again. Really? I
Diane Mora
This was just barely okay; I didn't hate it enough to give it just one star, but two feels a bit generous -- 1.5 would be about right. I managed to get through the book, but found nothing here to love (or even like); perhaps the most accurate statement I can make about it is that I found it annoying.

The characters are one-dimensional, dialog forced, exposition awkward (and endless), descriptors cliche, villains transparent, and major plot points completely unsurprising. I could never figure out
Jan 10, 2014 DubaiReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, 2013
Atmospheric descriptions of ancient Italy.

I enjoyed my first two Carol Goodman novels, The Lake of Dead Languages and Seduction of Water, but this one seemed a bit one dimensional in comparison. I loved the descriptions of the archaeological site known as The Night Villa, and the story of the slave girl, Iusta, that was gradually being unveiled by multi-spectral imaging of the papyrus scrolls on which it had been written. Unfortunately I wasn't grabbed by the modern day characters or the 'advent
Feb 07, 2013 Lori rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked the premise- a team of classic scholars uncovering the meaning of the mystery rites, but overall it was too predictable in the way a b-grade horror movie has its five principle characters who all get killed off one by one. There weren't any surprises and not much depth.

It was dark and intriguing and I think she did a good job of detailing Southern Italy, though I've never been there, and bringing it alive in my imagination.

The characters were bland. Especially Sophie. There was too muc
Lisa Westerfield
‘The Night Villa’ is an example of how action/mystery books should be written. For once, after reading several books of this genre, I felt I could have picked the lead character out of a lineup if I needed to.

University of Texas (Austin campus) Classics Professor Sophie Chase has some personal baggage which makes it easy for her to identify with one of her favorite students, Agnes Hancock (yes, I did find the name Agnes for a character that is supposed to be one of those drop-dead blonde Texas
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Night Villa 1 2 May 28, 2013 06:50AM  
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Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Fairwick Chronicles, Watchtower Trilogy (with husband Lee Slonimsky), and the forthcoming young adult Blythewood series. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latt, The Midwest Quarterly, and Other Voices. After graduation from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several y ...more
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