The Secret of the Nightingale Palace: A Novel

( 9 )

Overview

Struggling to move on after her husband's death, thirty-five-year-old Anna receives an unexpected phone call from her estranged grandmother, Goldie, summoning her to New York. A demanding woman with a sharp tongue and a devotion to fashion and etiquette, Goldie has not softened in the five years since she and her granddaughter last spoke. Now she wants Anna to drive her to San Francisco to return a collection of exquisite Japanese art to a long-lost friend.

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The Secret of the Nightingale Palace

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Overview

Struggling to move on after her husband's death, thirty-five-year-old Anna receives an unexpected phone call from her estranged grandmother, Goldie, summoning her to New York. A demanding woman with a sharp tongue and a devotion to fashion and etiquette, Goldie has not softened in the five years since she and her granddaughter last spoke. Now she wants Anna to drive her to San Francisco to return a collection of exquisite Japanese art to a long-lost friend.

Hours of sitting behind the wheel of Goldie's Rolls-Royce soften Anna's attitude toward her grandmother, and as the miles pass, old hurts begin to heal. Yet no matter how close they become, Goldie harbors painful secrets about her youthful days in 1940s San Francisco that she cannot share. But if she truly wants to help her granddaughter find happiness again, she must eventually confront the truths of her life.

Moving back and forth across time and told in the voices of both Anna and Goldie, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace is a searing portrait of family, betrayal, sacrifice, and forgiveness—and a testament to the enduring power of love.

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Editorial Reviews

George Bishop
“This is Dana Sachs’s best yet. THE SECRET OF THE NIGHTINGALE PALACE is a charming story, beautifully told. Her prose puts one in mind of the Japanese prints she writes about: colorful, spare, and evocative.”
Historical Novels Review
“[A] satisfying story...Goldie’s lesson to her granddaughter becomes obvious: we must move past our losses to “make out own parties.” I won’t give away the twist at the end but will say every time I think of teh way Goldie made her own party, I smile.”
Kim Fay
“[A] graceful exploration of the human heart. With her signature elegance, she examines the burden of family secrets and how the complexities of culture can both divide and unite at the same time... this hypnotic, satisfying novel will linger in your thoughts long after you finish the last page.”
Michael Lowenthal
“Old-fashioned in the best of ways, this story of a grandmother and granddaughter-revisiting the past in order to chart the future-has all the romantic elegance of the ‘62 Silver Cloud in which they zoom across the country.”
Pamela Schoenewaldt
“Sachs takes us from fury to laughter and loss to healing as the true value of a Japanese treasure is finally revealed.”
Booklist
“As with most well-crafted literary journeys, it’s not really about the destination, but this onedoes feature a sweetly surprising, cinematically styled twist at the end of the road. An idealrecommendation for the book-club set.”
Elle on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Candid and large-hearted.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Charming moments and telling insights.”
Washington Post on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Part memoir, part travelogue, the account…reads like a novel.”
Orlando Sentinel on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Parts of this book are genuinely beautiful…Sachs is particularly skilled at evoking the smells, sounds and rhythms of Hanoi.”
San Jose Mercury News on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Lovingly crafted…The writing has the endearing, straightforward and meticulous quality of diary entries. Her prose is clean, allowing for some quietly elegant passages.”
Utne Reader on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Passionate, perceptive.”
The Colorado Review on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Sachs traces through each of her visits to Vietnam…with humor, poignancy and well-written grace.”
Lexington Herald-Leader on THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET
“Says more about Vietnamese culture than any book published to date, just as it proves that the language of the heart can leap social and political bounds.”
Tom Bissell
"...An uncannily moving novel of the Vietnamese experience in America. Dana Sachs is a one-woman power grid, her book electric company."
Celia Rivenbark
“Dana Sachs’s beautifully written novel, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace, is so pitch perfect that you’ll be sad when it’s over. A gifted storyteller, Sachs has created a multi-generational page-turner that will keep you reading late into the night. Brilliant!”
RT Book Reviews (top pick)
“Sachs’ latest is so beautiful in every aspect that readers will have difficulty pinpointing the best parts. Rich in San Francisco history with brilliant characters you’ll warm up to, the two different storylines will enrapture you as well....Elegant and tasteful, this novel is not to be missed.”
(top pick) - RT Book Reviews
"Sachs’ latest is so beautiful in every aspect that readers will have difficulty pinpointing the best parts. Rich in San Francisco history with brilliant characters you’ll warm up to, the two different storylines will enrapture you as well....Elegant and tasteful, this novel is not to be missed."
Orlando Sentinel
“Parts of this book are genuinely beautiful…Sachs is particularly skilled at evoking the smells, sounds and rhythms of Hanoi.”
Washington Post
“Part memoir, part travelogue, the account…reads like a novel.”
San Jose Mercury News
“Lovingly crafted…The writing has the endearing, straightforward and meticulous quality of diary entries. Her prose is clean, allowing for some quietly elegant passages.”
Elle
“Candid and large-hearted.”
Charlotte Observer
"Poignant...A well-told story, with appealing characters, delightful moments and a satisfyingly real ending."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Charming moments and telling insights.”
Lexington Herald-Leader
“Says more about Vietnamese culture than any book published to date, just as it proves that the language of the heart can leap social and political bounds.”
Columbus Dispatch
"Precise and vivid.
Utne Reader
“Passionate, perceptive.”
Things Asian
" IF YOU LIVED HERE is filled with dramatic moments. Author Dana Sachs deserves to be listened to."
Morning Star Wilmington (NC)
"Love, in its various incarnations, is the central theme of Sachs’ tale—big love that’s revealed in small signs and little gestures."
The Colorado Review
“Sachs traces through each of her visits to Vietnam…with humor, poignancy and well-written grace.”
Things Asian
“ IF YOU LIVED HERE is filled with dramatic moments. Author Dana Sachs deserves to be listened to.”
Morning Star Wilmington (NC)
“Love, in its various incarnations, is the central theme of Sachs’ tale--big love that’s revealed in small signs and little gestures.”
Charlotte Observer
“Poignant...A well-told story, with appealing characters, delightful moments and a satisfyingly real ending.”
Columbus Dispatch
“Precise and vivid.
Kirkus Reviews
Sachs (If You Lived Here, 2007, etc.) takes a conventional literary device--a road trip--and uses compassion, humor and good writing to transform the journey into a memorable story. Thirty-five-year-old artist Anna Rosenthal is surprised when she receives a call from her estranged grandmother. They haven't spoken to each other for five years, ever since Goldie criticized Anna's determination to marry someone she felt was not right for her granddaughter. Now, Goldie wants Anna to chauffeur her from her home in New York City to San Francisco in her vintage Rolls Royce. She claims she wants to return some artwork entrusted to her when her closest friends, of Japanese descent, were placed in an internment camp during World War II. The prints are breathtakingly beautiful and are links to Goldie's mysterious past, revealed in flashbacks to the reader as the two travel across the continent. Since theirs is a journey of reconciliation, Anna and Goldie sling verbal spears at each other throughout the trip; but they also have tender moments when Anna believes past wounds are finally healing--until the next contentious round occurs. Anna, a widow for two years, suffers from survivor's guilt and fears relationships that might once again result in pain and loss, so she evades a suitor's attempts to contact her. She also resents being told by others that she's just like her grandmother since she thinks Goldie's unsympathetic and rigid. But Goldie, a feisty octogenarian, is a paradox: although she's been used to the finer things in life for years, she's perfectly happy sleeping in Hampton Inns and dining at chain restaurants as she traverses America. And though she refuses to indulge Anna in her grief, she's unstintingly supportive of and kind to strangers, no matter their station in life. Never forget, she reminds Anna, that every person has value. A solid story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062201034
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/19/2013
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 346
  • Sales rank: 335,890
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.86 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Dana Sachs is the author of the novel If You Lived Here and two books of nonfiction, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam and The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2013

    An amazing story of two women

    I loved this book and was sorry when the story ended. Dana Sachs created a wonderfully entwined story of two women: grandmother and granddaughter taking us back to World War II era in San Fracisco and present times. This book teaches reader about life a nd it's unexpected turns, takeing charge of life and enoying it as it happens. Wonderful surprising ending is a cherry to top a great story.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Palace is Perfect I loved, loved, loved this book. I so rarely

    Palace is Perfect

    I loved, loved, loved this book. I so rarely say this so I want to put it at the beginning of this review. And , this is doubly exciting because I won it for free from LibraryThing. Not only did I race through this book, but I actually gasped – out loud – at the ending, which never happens (and usually when it does it’s a gasp of anger at the author, not out of pleasure). What is even more surprising is that I spent the last five years living in Wilmington, NC, and have never heard of this author and she lives there. How did this happen? How did I not know about her? How did I miss out on getting this awesome book signed?!
    But back to the book. Why is it so great, you ask? Well, The Secret of Nightingale Palace; brings together all of my favorite elements in a book: love, war, grandparents, marital distress, and intercultural relationships. Plus, it takes place over a large chunk of time, which I love (I’m a big Kate Morton fan). That said, I’m fairly picky when it comes to books that jump back and forth between timeframes because the author oftentimes leaves loose ends, but that was not the case in Nightingale.
    The Secret of Nightingale Palace tells the story of Anna and her grandmother, Goldie. Despite their estranged relationship, the two embark on a cross-country drive (in an old Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, no less) to return some Japanese artwork to its original owner. Little does Anna know that the artwork has a story of its own. Told over the course of several decades, the book hops back and forth from today’s drive to the mid-1900′s when Goldie lived a life that is unfathomable to her family. Always prim, proper, and wealthy – Anna learns about a side of her grandmother that she had never expected.¿¿Roughly 2/3 of the book is about Goldie, who comes of age alongside her best friend, a Japanese immigrant named Mayumi. The two are the best of friends and coworkers in the years leading up to WWII, which, as we know from history, changes everything. The events surrounding these delicate years set up the story for the rest of the book and the complicated love triangles that catapult the past into the next century.
    Fans of literary fiction will love this book, but I think that fans of historical fiction will enjoy it, too. I hope you snag yourself a copy and let me know how you like it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    THE SECRET OF THE NIGHTINGALE PALACE by Dana Sachs is an interes

    THE SECRET OF THE NIGHTINGALE PALACE by Dana Sachs is an interesting contemporary/women's fiction. An estranged grandmother,Goldie Rosenthal and her granddaughter,Anna take a trip across country to return a precious Japanese artifact her grandmother has kept for years. Filled with a bit of laughter,family drama,betrayal,grief,loss,sacrifice,secrets,forgiveness and the power of love. The story is told between the two main characters,Goldie and Anna. A compelling story! The story tells the tale between a young Jewish-American in San Francisco,Goldie,and her walk down memory lane,her involvement with a Japanese-American and the attack on Pearl Harbor. And Anna's take in modern-day,her heartbreak,and grief of losing a husband. If you enjoy Women's fiction with a touch of historical elements,Japanese-American ethnicity,than you will enjoy "The Secret of the Nightingale Palace". From the 1940's to present day,you will not want to miss this compelling story. Received for an honest review from the publisher.

    RATING: 4

    HEAT RATING: SWEET

    REVIEWED BY: AprilR,(Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Recommend

    What an ending! I suspected, but wasn't too surprised. Good story about the struggles in life.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Having lost her husband after a long illness, Anna has been livi

    Having lost her husband after a long illness, Anna has been living in something of a limbo. Her grandmother Goldie never approved of her husband, and their relationship has been strained for years. Now Goldie has persuaded her to drive her across the country to San Francisco, in order to return an art collection to an old family friend.

    This modest story started out a little slow for me, but probably about a quarter of the way through it picked up and got more interesting.

    Anna’s grandmother Goldie is an opinionated woman whose criticism can grate, and she has alienated her granddaughter years before when she made clear her opinions of Anna’s fiance. As Goldie and Anna embark on a cross-country trip together, the two couldn’t seem more different, but as the book carries on you begin to realize that they are more alike than Anna even realizes or would want to admit.

    This book continually changes perspectives and performs time shifts as we go from Goldie during WWII as she was just blossoming into womanhood and discovering herself and what life held for her, and Goldie in her advanced years reflecting on the past with her granddaughter as they travel.

    When touring through Goldie’s past, we are introduced to a whole other cast of characters, including Mayumi, the artistic Japanese woman who became Goldie’s best friend, and her somewhat stoic brother Henry, who were both sent away to a Japanese internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    In the current day, Anna has been living in limbo for two years, her heart damaged and scabbed over, after losing her husband to leukemia. She is hesitant to agree to her grandmother’s request for her to drive her from New York to California, so she can return some art to the Nakumura family. But in so doing, Anna learns as much about herself as she does about Goldie along the way.

    I loved Goldie’s strength, although it often manifested in an abrasive and critical demeanor. Goldie believes that you don’t sit around waiting for happiness, but you make your own happiness. She is not one to brood on heartbreak, not one to be defeated. She is certain that if you aren’t invited to the party, then you just make your own party.

    There is such great beauty throughout this novel. From the art collection Goldie is hoping to return to the Japanese Tea Garden that Mayumi and Henry’s father maintains, from the artistic storefront windows that Mayumi creates to the modern day graphical comics created by Anna, from the beautiful designer clothes that Goldie wears to the Rolls Royce that she drives, this book is filled with beauty. And it’s filled with hope.

    This book follows two paths: One woman’s past being remembered, and another woman’s future being discovered.

    My final word: There was a nice little twist in the end that I enjoyed and found very satisfying. I enjoyed the second half of the story more than the first, but the story in general was gentle, emotional, sentimental and affective. The characters were rich. Goldie is the true star of the story. Overall the book made me feel hopeful.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2013

    I loved this book so much that I already look forward to reading

    I loved this book so much that I already look forward to reading it again. I haven't had a chance to read much over the last couple of months since I'm taking care of a baby and getting ready for my own book's launch, but I was secretly glad to be sick and stuck in bed for the weekend so I had uninterrupted time to read this. I loved spending time with Anna and Goldie and was amazed at how well Sachs balanced their two stories. I always looked forward to each character's POV, but I never felt yanked out of their world or manipulated for the sake of turning pages. And yet, I eagerly turned the pages. All of the relationships were exceptionally well developed and never forced, even the ones with surprising plot twists. I was also surprised by how well Sachs incorporated deeper themes like race, identity, and family within a fresh and entertaining story. It's wonderful to be encouraged to think without being pulled out of the dream. I highly recommend this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This is just a flat out beautiful book. I loved every minute of

    This is just a flat out beautiful book. I loved every minute of it. Goldie is such a rich character and finding out what made her into the woman she turned out to be was such a great journey. I cannot begin to tell you how many Goldies I have in my life. Strong, powerful women, doing their best and wrong more often than right, but heaven forbid they ever realize that, and oh so full of love and life. I enjoyed having a new way to think about these tough and yet frail, old ladies. 
    I also really enjoyed the that every single "secondary" character was a complete person, that you mourned their passings and failings every bit as much as the "main" characters. The time setting was perfectly caught, Goldie's life took place in hard, historically important times, but she only acknowledged as it touched on her life. She never looked too hard at the goings on around her, she let nothing distract her from her hard swim to the top.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2014

    Carter

    Its fine and yea we r still dateing i gtg wont be on at all today

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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