The Night Journal
Viking, 2006 (2006)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
eg Mabry never wanted to read the journals of her great-grandmother Hannah Bass. She feels she has enough to contend with just dealing with her grandmother Claudia Bass or
as she is affectionately called. Bassie, a caustic old woman, faces the end of her years.
eg accompanies Bassie to Las Vegas, New Mexico where Hannah Bass had spent the last years of her life and Bassie the beginning of hers. Hannah died young but left rather detailed and personal diaries that give a sense of what the years were like in the early 1900s in New Mexico: from housing, foods, raiment, illnesses, and the moral atmosphere of the times, to the relationships between the settlers and the Hispanos on land that had once belonged to Mexico. Hannah's husband Elliot Bass had been instrumental in making the dream of a railroad in that area a reality. Which he did until one night he disappeared along with his dog Pecos.
hen Meg finally gives in and reads her great-grandmother's diaries, she becomes enmeshed in the drama of the words so painstakingly written on the yellowed pages. As she begins to understand her grandmother, her own life takes on a new meaning.
The Night Journals
, sensitively and engagingly written, reminds us of the connection we all have to our own pasts. I fell in love with Hannah, who had compassion to spare and a love that filled her heart. Vincente rings very true with his love and loyalty. Elliot, while many words are written of him, seems ethereal throughout the book; the reader is horrified to find what drove him. And the final question: what happened to him?
he Night Journal
is the author's third book and a
. The amount of research that made this tale as fine as it is remains awe inspiring. I am impressed that Crook could weave all that reality around the lives of her protagonists and produce such a fine novel, one that is hard to put down.
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