Today, it’s a review of another long-listed book on the Women’s Prize For Fiction, the brilliant, heart-breaking novel, Nightingale Point, by Luan Goldie.
I’ve seen this novel a lot on social media, especially as it was a Radio 2 Book Club Pick but I never got round to reading it but isn’t that one of the many great things about book prizes? When the long-list was announced, I ordered my copy and when I read this book, I read it in a day as I just couldn’t put it down… but first, what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:
On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.
Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.
It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.
I love this synopsis because of how quiet it is – it doesn’t give anything at all of the plot and I really enjoyed going into this book blind and not really knowing what’s going to happen. I read this book after a few long, tiresome books that made me feel a bit rubbish but once I started this, I knew I was in for a good read especially as the pace was so quick and I couldn’t stop turning the page. So, if you can, go into the book without knowing much of the plot or what happens as you will have a much better enriched reading experience. I did, anyway. There were moments where I literally gasped out loud – I hope you have the same experience, too.
There is a lot of things to love in this book. But for me, it’s all about the characters. With a novel and story like this, you need characters that you care about and we have five main characters to care about. The novel is told in chapters of different perspectives of the five characters and how they go about their lives and how they interact with each other leading up to the ‘event’ that happens that changes their lives. The characters are writing brilliantly – they feel real, raw, relatable and characters you care enough to go on their journey. I loved the character of Elvis who is such a brilliantly written character he will stay with you for days after reading it. I also loved the character Mary and reading about her life, but for me, I loved the relationship between the two brothers, Malachi and Tristan. These two characters felt the most real to me in some cases, especially their relationship together. Their relationship dynamic is layered, complex, and they have been through a lot together, too. You really go on a journey with the two of them and are the centre of the novel.
This feels very much like a book of ‘right now’ even though it’s set mostly in the 90’s. It is a book with a social conscience, a book that explores: family, love, life, grief, community, a duty of care, among others. Goldie is a brilliant writer – with lightness in her writing and characters you care about and a pace so quick you can’t stop turning the page to find out what happens next. I really enjoyed this novel, more than I thought I would, and I’m glad to see it on the long-list. I can’t wait to read more of her writing in the future.
Have you read Nightingale Point? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!