Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on February 19, 2013
Read synopsis on Goodreads
I received this book for free from the publisher.
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I loved, loved, loved this book. I so rarely say this so I want to put it at the beginning of this review. And , this is doubly exciting because I won it for free from LibraryThing. Not only did I race through this book, but I actually gasped – out loud – at the ending, which never happens (and usually when it does it’s a gasp of anger at the author, not out of pleasure). What is even more surprising is that I spent the last five years living in Wilmington, NC, and have never heard of this author and she lives there. How did this happen? How did I not know about her? How did I miss out on getting this awesome book signed?!
But back to the book. Why is it so great, you ask? Well, The Secret of Nightingale Palace; brings together all of my favorite elements in a book: love, war, grandparents, marital distress, and intercultural relationships. Plus, it takes place over a large chunk of time, which I love (I’m a big Kate Morton fan). That said, I’m fairly picky when it comes to books that jump back and forth between timeframes because the author oftentimes leaves loose ends, but that was not the case in Nightingale.
The Secret of Nightingale Palace tells the story of Anna and her grandmother, Goldie. Despite their estranged relationship, the two embark on a cross-country drive (in an old Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, no less) to return some Japanese artwork to its original owner. Little does Anna know that the artwork has a story of its own. Told over the course of several decades, the book hops back and forth from today’s drive to the mid-1900’s when Goldie lived a life that is unfathomable to her family. Always prim, proper, and wealthy – Anna learns about a side of her grandmother that she had never expected.
Roughly 2/3 of the book is about Goldie, who comes of age alongside her best friend, a Japanese immigrant named Mayumi. The two are the best of friends and coworkers in the years leading up to WWII, which, as we know from history, changes everything. The events surrounding these delicate years set up the story for the rest of the book and the complicated love triangles that catapult the past into the next century.
Fans of literary fiction will love this book, but I think that fans of historical fiction will enjoy it, too. I hope you snag yourself a copy and let me know how you like it!