Austinite Elizabeth Crook builds a sumptuous, surprise-filled third novel, The Night Journal (Viking), on six volumes of diaries by fictional New Mexico protofeminist Hannah Bass. The handwritten notebooks from the 1890’s have become the quiet battlefield in a cross-generational war between Bassie, the daughter who edited them into a best-seller, and Meg, the granddaughter who refuses to read them. The contentious mother-daughter duo find themselves questioning the Bass matriarch’s legacy when an archaeologist excavates several suspicious objects—including a set of human remains—from Dog Hill, where Hannah allegedly buried her favorite dog. As secrets from the past are revealed, the journal’s turn-of-the-century characters become vividly real. The Night Journal is near perfect, a beautifully restrained epic with nary a wasted word.
From the February 2006 Issue Subscribe