#MGlit Review: The Secret of Nightingale Wood
Well, 2017 ended with some really good reads, and I'm ready to jump back into sharing reviews! Up first this year is a sweet historical fiction that published last October, but made it into my hands at the end of the year. I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but I gobbled this one up!
The Secret of Nightingale Wood is the story of Henry and her family in the aftermath of the loss of her brother Robert. Set in 1919, it’s centered around a time in the world when certain emotions, afflictions, and issues with women were hidden away. When her own mother has trouble coping with the loss of her son, just after the birth of her daughter, and with her Father away in work, Henry finds that she has to step up and care for her new sister, dubbed Piglet. But as the family settles into this new life, Henry finds herself wandering deep in the woods where she stumbles upon the mysterious Moth, a women who just might hold the key to helping Henry save her family.
As I read Nightingale, I couldn’t help but find myself swept up in the classics of my childhood, the prose reminiscent of so many stories near and dear to my heart such as Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and more. Lucy Strange’s words are beautifully poetic and transformative as she takes readers back into a time where life was simpler and more magical.
Yet, she also captures the hidden and dark aspects of the time period in such an emotional way, digging deep into how women struggling with depression, anxiety, and hysteria were treated.
Though this is Henry’s tale, it’s also so much more. It’s the story of many girls and women in the time—a time when they were misunderstood and locked away for fear of their hysterics spreading.
I’ve never been too much of a historical fiction fan, but Strange pulled me into her story from the beginning and I had a hard time letting go. I was invested in Henry, in her mother, in Piglet and in Moth—all these strong women who had so much to teach me. I also loved the air of mystery that Strange wove throughout the tale, keeping me turning the pages just to see how it was going to end and holding out hope for not only Henry, but her mother.
I recommend this book for those interested in history, strong female characters, classic prose, and social change. It's definitely a book I can see many young readers enjoying; however, older readers will fully grasp the depth of the story.
Overall, Nightingale is a book that will make readers wonder but also ponder what it means to care for others.
📚 Ages 8-12
📚 Family themes and hard topics
📚 Historical Fiction w/ an air of Mystery