The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange
The Secret of Nightingale Wood is a beautiful, immersive read with a spirited and courageous young heroine who drives its narrative. Following a tragic death in her family, 12-year-old Henrietta (or ‘Henry’, as she prefers to be called) finds herself assuming responsibility for her family’s welfare in their time of crisis. Grief tears her family apart, leaving her mother bedridden with despair and her father fleeing abroad to work. The period is post-WWI, and the local doctor, Dr Hardy, takes advantage of the family’s vulnerability. Corrupted by self-interest and narrow, parochial views, he conspires to commit Henry’s mother to a mental institution and to remove Henry’s baby sister, Piglet, so that she can be raised by his wife.
As the crisis builds, Henry seeks solace in Nightingale Wood and there she finds an unlikely ally, Moth, a woman emotionally broken by tragedy of her own and now living a reclusive life. The bond that forms between Henry and Moth gives strength and purpose to them both and together they work miracles to rescue Henry’s family from the edge of ruin. This is a heartbreaking yet brave story, full of hope and wonder.
Natalie Platten is the Assistant Manager and Children’s Book Buyer at Readings Doncaster.