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Friday, November 7, 2014

Nightingale by Fiona McIntosh

Title: Nightingale
Author: Fiona McIntosh
Publisher: October 21st 2014 by Penguin Australia
ISBN: 9781921901966
Pages: 357 pages 

How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: historical fiction, war, romance

My Rating: 4 crowns

Amidst the carnage of Gallipoli, British nurse Claire Nightingale meets Australian Light Horseman Jamie Wren. Despite all odds, they fall deeply in love. Their flame burns bright and carries them through their darkest hours, even when war tears them apart.

Jamie's chance meeting with Turkish soldier Açar Shahin on the blood-stained battlefield forges an unforgettable bond between the men. It also leaves a precious clue to Jamie's whereabouts for Claire to follow.

Come peacetime, Claire's desperate search to find Jamie takes her all the way to Istanbul, and deep into the heart of Açar's family, where she attracts the unexpected attention of a charismatic and brooding scholar.

In the name of forgiveness, cultures come together, enemies embrace and forbidden passions ignite – but by the breathtaking conclusion, who will be left standing to capture Nurse Nightingale's heart?

 A heart-soaring novel of heartbreak and heroism, love and longing by a powerhouse Australian storyteller. 

My thoughts:

“You already love him; it happens. Accept love comes out of nowhere for the majority of us. And the best love is unexpected, while the least successful in love are those who plan it or force it. This young man has flown into your heart and made a nest.”

From the harrowing trenches of Gallipoli to the bustling cities of Cairo, London, and even post-war Istanbul, this novel will take you on an emotional journey of war, love, faith, heartbreak and hope. Yes, this is a romantic tale, the classic love triangle, but for me, the real attraction to Fiona McIntosh’s tale is in the descriptive diversity.

From the shores of Gallipoli in World War I and the hellish circumstances that soldiers faced there, McIntosh captures everything, from the chaos and camaraderie to the heroism and tragedy, that will leave you drained yet riveted. I found her writing to be so vivid at times that a real authenticity flowed through her words and I was transported effortlessly to another place and time.

This story serves as a great reminder of the brave work done by the nurses and doctors who worked tirelessly to save and care for the wounded in horrific conditions. At the heart of this novel is the firsthand account of – in this instance – the women, primarily nursing staff – who worked in difficult and unsanitary conditions for ridiculous amounts of time, under the sorrow of so much carnage. One could not help but feel their fears and frustrations, yet unquestionable dedication.

This novel illuminates not only the horror of war but also the human side, and the truce declared to clear No Man's Land of the dead, which allowed a relationship to be struck between the harmonica-playing Jamie and the kaval-playing Açar, provided a moment to surely pull at one’s heartstrings.

Another highlight of the novel was Claire’s trip to Istanbul – once again McIntosh’s descriptions of the post-war Turkish city were vivid, intriguing and culturally captivating.

There is an array of secondary characters that bring a quintessential quality to the story as well. Jamie’s friend Spud at Gallipoli and the heart breaking tale of Açar, who provided the focal motivation in all that would transpire, felt real, the descriptions ‘too’ real as the horrors hit home.

Ultimately this is a well-researched historical fiction novel by an author I will surely read some more from. I was totally absorbed in this compelling story, finding it difficult to put down and eager to pick up when time once more permitted. I have no hesitation in recommending this novel.

"Leave some room for oddities because life, I have found, is rarely neat. Drink your tea. It has magical properties to make every shock feel less dramatic.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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1 comment:

Mystica said...

Like the sound of this one. Love that final quote too