The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange
What I drank: My friend Taylor came for a visit so tonight was a wine night!!! I love a good wine night. And then I ended a night with a beer because no one else seemed to want more wine…. lame
Non-Spoiler Summary: Before I start, I should probably say that we received this book in return for a fair and honest review. What they’re getting is a fair and honest drunk review… not sure that’s what they were aiming for…. What can I say about this book. I’m not sure how many spoilers there could actually be from this book… Henry is about 10 years old and her family has moved to the country after a family tragedy. With her father called out of the country for work, she is in a house with her infant sister, nanny, and mother who is being treated in the old school way of drugging them until the problem is gone. The house she is living in is fairly unique; as is Henry’s perspective. The mother, who has been ‘taken car of’ by a doctor (the kind that thinks that someone should just be drugged until she’s better) isn’t improving and poor Henry is having trouble dealing with the fact that she’s not allowed to have contact with her mother while her father is also absent. She comes to a conclusion that things need to happen and works to make it happen.
Non-Spoiler thoughts: This book did an amazing job of reminding me how helpless a lot of childhood felt. Henry, our main character, feels helpless in so much of her life. And living during a time when children were seen and not heard reminded me so much of the moments in my childhoood where I felt like no one was listening and that I couldn’t make something happen.
Plot: Iv’e seen a few things about how well this book talks about a post-war preiod and that’s not super my thing so I can’t speak as to that. This book definitley focuses on a tiny story, there’s no “who is going to save the world here” except that for this little girl, her family is her world. Basically the plot is fairly slow moving. A lot happens in the last couple of pages, but the story needed the buildup
Characters: Gonna be honest, there wasn’t much character buildilng outside of Henry. The sister (piglet? acutally called roberta) is too young for character growth. The doctor taking care of the mother was pretty obviously greedy and one sided. The nanny didn’t really have much of a change…. Henry was really a sweet character becuase she cared about so much and to a certain extent felt a little more modern than everyhone else.
Writing Style: I straight up have nothing to say about this. I guess this book walked the line between magical realism and a child’s imagination. There were a few characters that I couldn’t verify were real until later.. .
SPOILERS – PLEASE SKIP IF YOU’RE GOING TO READ ETC:
So the spoilers in this book I don’t actually think ruin anything. The book mentions that Henry’s brother has died about a year before the book starts and that Henry feels responsible, which does add an entirely different label. The woman who lived in the forest was written in such a way that it was hard to figure out if she was real or not. I guess my biggest disappointment in this book was that I was expecting something to be magical realism and it wasn’t. Because it turns out that every moment of ‘magical realism’ was real. There really was a crow lady living in the forest, there really was someone wandering aroudn the property.
That being said, as I mentioned above, I really enjoyed how deftly this book put me into the mindset of a child that doesn’t have other optiosn. As an adult I’ve realized that there’s pretty much a way to work with any situation, but as a child that young in that era, there’s not much that can be done. And yet our protagonist manages to pull herself together and use her resources to make everything work in her fashion. You can tell this book is middle grade by the way the mother recovers so quickly and that the father immeidatley returns. But I feel like there’s a time and a place for something like this and while I might complain about it in a numbe rof books, this was the time and place.
Rating: I’d give this one a 4/5 stars. This book did such a good job of putting me in the mindset of a child that I really have to appreciate it. The plot itself didn’t have as many twists and turns as I would have appreicated but it is a middle grade.
Drink Pairing: This book is probably sherry. A kind of old-school drink.
Happy Drinking, and until next time,