The Nightingale’s Nest

Written by Sarah Harrison
Review by Sara Wilson

Married and widowed by the Great War in less than a week, Pamela Griffe evolves into a composed and controlled young woman, drably dressed and introspective. Then she goes to work for the happily chaotic Jarvises and is introduced into a world of colour, noise and art. She is also introduced to John Ashe, a cruel and enigmatic character, as disfigured on the inside as he is scarred on the outside. Fascinated by her new life, Pamela is drawn to Suzannah Murchie, a talented artist and loner – unknown and unknowable.

When she also begins to work for Ashe, Pamela learns more than she wishes about the seedy underbelly of his various businesses. And that’s when she begins a plan to turn things to her advantage and at the same time exact a kind of revenge. But if this is revenge then it wears the sweet face of charity and that in itself is redeeming.

Sarah Harrison has written many best selling novels and The Nightingale’s Nest demonstrates why. Her characters are superbly well-developed, with all the facets and contradictions of real living, breathing people. This is especially case with the main character of Pamela, who is as fully rounded a fictional character as I have come across in a long time.

The only criticism (and it is a minor one) is that I wasn’t always convinced by the 1920s setting. The story could have been taking place any time from the 20s to the late 60s, and would have worked equally well – for me it didn’t always “feel” like the 1920s. That aside, it was an exciting and revealing read.