Rating:

Reviewed by Jennifer J.

Spanning 50 years, John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River is the unforgettable saga of Dominic and Danny Baciagalupo. Dominic Baciagalupo and his twelve-year-old son Danny live in a small logging town in northern New Hampshire. Dominic, or “Cookie” as the inhabitants of the settlement call him, is employed as a cook for the loggers. With his son in tow, he moves up and down Twisted River each day to prepare meals for the hungry workers. One fateful day in 1954, a tragic accident involving a young man not much older than Cookie’s son is just the beginning of the end for the Baciagalupo family.

After young Danny accidentally mistakes the local law enforcement’s girlfriend for a bear and shoots her, Dominic sets the stage to look as if the constable himself is responsible for the murder of Injun Jane. Fleeing with Danny, Dominic takes on a new name and identity. Danny eventually becomes a well-known novelist using the nom de plume “Danny Angel”. Under this name, he is able to fictiously share with the world the triumphs and tragedies he has experienced in his life, including the death of Injun Jane. Many years pass happily and not so happily, until visitors from the past catch up with Dominic and Danny in their new lives. Once again they are forced to move on, anxiously awaiting the day when Constable Carl will find them and take his revenge.

Having only read one other John Irving novel (The Cider House Rules), I was eager to read more from this ambitious author. Although the novel is 554 pages, the foreshadowing narrative kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next. Occasionally I found myself wishing that certain situations had not been forewarned just so I could be more heavily impacted as they occurred.

[amazonify]0345479734[/amazonify]Additionally, Irving is a master of characterization. The writer “Danny Angel” intrigued me so much that I would stop reading the novel and research information on Irving himself. Readers should not be surprised to learn that there are many similarities between Danny Angel and John Irving, which becomes more apparent in the novel’s moving conclusion. Not only will readers be drawn in by Dominic and Danny, but they will also enjoy any passages involving Dominic’s logger friend from Twisted River, Ketchum. Throughout the novel Ketchum is ever-present in young Danny’s mind and he will certainly make his way into the heart of Irving’s fans.

With so many layers, realistic characters, and twists and turns, Last Night in Twisted River is a must-read that will satisfy Irving fans and entice new readers to discover his previous novels.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.