“Little Night” by New York Times Bestselling author, Luanne Rice is heart-wrenching family drama, centered around two sisters and the abusive man who wrecked havoc in their life. Frederick finds a vulnerability in the older sister, Anne and almost within days of meeting her, proposes to marry her. Almost immediately he begins to lay down the rules in their relationship, insisting that marriage is a special bond between two people. To young Anne, this older and confident man’s proclamations felt like he was “offering me a new contract: I would be his, accept his pronouncements, and in return, never be alone, never be unloved”.
Very early on into the relationship, Frederick saw the closeness between his wife Anne and her younger sister Clare, as a threat to his ability to control and claim Anne completely. He began to drive a wedge and soon Clare was unwelcome in their home and unable to contact Clare. It took Clare several years to understand that “Frederick had laid down the law, and, even more horrifying, Anne had signed on to obey it”. But long before she gets that insight, Frederick nearly ruined Clare’s life when Clare showed up unexpectedly at their home, wanting to see her sister.
After that devastating episode, Frederick took Anne far away and more isolated and alone, Anne learned to walk on eggshells to please Frederick. Any little thing by Anne or their two children, Grit and Gilly, could throw Frederick into his dark and menacing mood. Initially, Clare nurtured a hope to get away from Frederick and promised her children freedom. But gradually, it became a pipe dream with an understanding that communication only occurred only through “intimidation and fear”. And yet, even Anne’s showing any fear threw Frederick into a rage; “you make me feel like an animal when you act like that”, he said, “as if you’re so afraid of me”.
Meanwhile Clare had picked up pieces of her own life, marred by Frederick’s interference, and was living a quiet life an urban birder and nature blogger, learning to find both comfort and peace in her work and with her boyfriend, Paul. The story takes an unexpected twist when Anne’s daughter, Grit shows up at Clare’s door, ready to move in with her. She explains she is working on a project that has “everything to do with resurrection, restoration and resurgence”, as found in nature. As they unravel tangled family ties buried in secrets, healing and freedom begin to appear, albeit at a price.