Sunday, June 13, 2010


Dara Horn’s spectacular book, All Other Nights, is rich with love, betrayal, loyalty and sorrow. I enjoyed her first two books, In the Image and The World to Come, which both weave historical fiction with present day narrative. But All Other Nights is strictly historical, a literary mystery set during the Civil War and reminiscent of Cold Mountain and March. After reading until 1:30am last night, I woke at 6:30am to finish it.

The cover reads:

How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, it is a question his commanders have already answered for him -- on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn’t to murder the spy, but to marry her. Their marriage, with its riveting and horrifying consequences, reveals the deep divisions that still haunt American life today.

Based on real personalities like Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy’s Jewish Secretary of State and spymaster, and on historical facts and events ranging from an African-American spy network to the dramatic self-destruction of the city of Richmond,
All Other Nights is a gripping and suspenseful story of men and women driven to the extreme limits of loyalty and betrayal. It is also a brilliant parable of the rift in America that lingers a century and a half later: between those who value family and tradition first, and those dedicated, at any cost, to social and racial justice for all.

In this eagerly-awaited third novel, award-winning author Dara Horn brings us page-turning storytelling at its best. Layered with meaning, All Other Nights presents the most American of subjects with originality and insight -- and the possibility of reconciliation that might yet await us.

I was most intrigued with her characterization of four sisters, each with their own unique quirks which not only brought them to life, but aided each in times of trouble. Her writing is intelligent and thoroughly researched, and although the plot was intricate, I never once felt it was contrived. The story, and characters, surprised me at every turn.

One of my favorites this year! Anyone else read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Lynd said...

I requested this book from the library based on your glowing review (and generally good taste), and just got notice it is in! I'm excited to read it. Thanks for the heads-up on this one. It sounds wonderful.