Field of Darkness

A Field of Darkness

by Cornelia Read

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. I have to thank listener Lesa Holstine who emailed me with this recommendation. She said since I love a good character, I might like Madeline Dare, and she was right on. Maddie is a fallen ex deb, coming from great big money on Long Island. Now she and her shotgun live with her often absent but awfully charming husband in Syracuse, New York, which she makes out to be like a less charming toxic waste dump. Maddie writes light and fluffy features for the local newspaper, and grudgingly finds herself caught up in a murder mystery that goes back 20 years and may involve her family. A Field of Darkness is Ms. Read’s first novel, but there’s nothing of the debut in her confident and bitingly funny dialogue.  The contrast between rural life in upstate New York, and parties thrown by her family on Long Island (which have nothing to do with food, I found out) is dizzying. I kept asking myself, what would it be like to live like that? And I meant both worlds. A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is A Field of Darkness by first time author, ex-deb Cornelia Read. Ms. Read and her heroine, Maddie Dare, have a lot in common — as she puts it, her family’s wealth is so old, it’s gone. Both real and fictional fathers lived in a car on the beaches of California. And they both spent the summer of 1988 in Syracuse. Unlike many debut novels, this basis in the real world never feels self indulgent. Read takes her life and turns it into a mystery packed with fascinating characters, and most of the time you can’t tell who the bad guys are and who the good ones are. In A Field of Darkness, Read maintains an extremely dark and witty tone, and I particularly liked the scenes set among her family, people with names like Binty and Lapthorne, living like fallen Gatsbys in crumbling Long Island mansions. In Maddie, Read has created a great heroine, always willing to follow her instincts, even when she knows it’s a really bad idea. A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. This is Read’s debut novel, and she uses much biographical material from her own life to create the narrator, Maddie Dare. It’s hard to imagine how she turned out a functioning member of society, much less an extremely fine writer, coming from the depravations of the upper, upper class on Long Island, where there is so much money that there isn’t anything else, and no one has to do anything, particularly not work. Maddie leaves it behind and marries a truly great guy — with a job as a railroad worker of all things — to her family’s horror, but the penalty is she follows him to the edge of civilization: Syracuse, New York. A Field of Darkness moves between Maddie’s utterly bizarre family in their Long Island estates, and her husband’s equally peculiar family of upstate farmers with ease. While the murder mystery that makes the main plot of this book is compelling, it is Read’s clever, darkly funny observations that made this book so good. A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


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