Marguerite Demers is twenty-four when she leaves Paris for the sleepy southern village of Saint-Sulpice, to take up a job as a live-in nurse. Her charge is Jerome Lanvier, once one of the most powerful men in the village, and now dying alone in his large and secluded house, surrounded by rambling gardens. Manipulative and tyrannical, Jerome has scared away all his previous nurses.
It’s not long before the villagers have formed opinions of Marguerite. Brigitte Brochon, pillar of the community and local busybody, finds her arrogant and mysterious and is desperate to find a reason to have her fired. Glamorous outsider Suki Lacourse sees Marguerite as an ally in a sea of small-minded provincialism. Local farmer Henri Brochon, husband of Brigitte, feels concern for her and wants to protect her from the villagers’ intrusive gossip and speculation – but Henri has a secret of his own that would intrigue and disturb his neighbours just as much as the truth about Marguerite, if only they knew …
Set among the lush fields and quiet olive groves of southern France, and written in clear prose of crystalline beauty, Nightingale is a masterful, moving novel about death, sexuality, compassion, prejudice and freedom.
Nightingale was the last book I read in the shortlist for this year’s Young Writer Award . And wow, I loved it! I thought it was excellent and was such an impressive debut!
Nightingale is a story set in the rural countryside of France. A story about a young nurse who is quiet, who I just want to give a big hug to, who is running away from a devastating secret; about a dying old man who isn’t exactly likeable but who isn’t all that bad either; about a handsome farmer who has such a kind soul but a secret of his own; about the old man’s three sons; about a very closed minded local community; and about how their lives intertwine and how their actions and even thoughts affect one and another.
Nightingale to me is not a plot heavy driven book. It is a quiet book about the characters but that’s where the beauty is. I found myself completely engrossed in the story and found myself wanting to read more and more. The sense of place is amazing. Marina Kemp has painted a hauntingly beautiful picture of love, prejudice and death. It is unsettling but also utterly moving. It is beautifully written with so much tenderness. I really love this book. I finished it yesterday morning and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It gripped my heart and I felt sad, heavy and happy at the same time. I love this book.
I want to congratulate Marina Kemp for this amazing book!