|Kathleen Eschenburg: The Nightingale's Song|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-380-81569-9
The song of the nightingale begins when Lord Fitzhugh, a man with mysterious ties to her family, sends young Mary Margaret Quinn to Virginia to escape family tragedy. Determined to become a nun, an older Mary Margaret Quinn embraces both her faith and the orphans in her charge. An orphan raised by Father Fitzhugh with a haunted past herself, "Maggie" knows the importance of having a loving caregiver.
When Dr. Gordon Kincaid arrives on the steps of St. Columba's orphanage, the winds of change arrive with him. Little does Gordon suspect that inside the orphanage walls lie his illegitimate daughter and a beautiful, disregarded, Irish girl who will both challenge and change his future. Little does the "too-sweet" Maggie expect that there could be more to her life than a convent.
Upon the discovery of his four-year old daughter, Clare, Gordon decides to make amends-not only to her, but to the son he left behind. Gordon needs only a wife to complete his plan. Unfortunately, a family has already expressed interest in adopting Clare. With no wife and a history of irresponsibility, Gordon must prove himself before St. Columba's will allow him custody of the wee Clare.
Eschenburg gives the reader of double dose of the popular orphan plot, which works quite well here. Likewise, the "Irish" subplot provides a compelling and gratifying reason to read on. One might question the title of the book, since the motif didn't thread through the entire narrative, causing the reader to doubt whether the book fulfilled its promise. But overall, Eschenburg hits high (and exciting) notes with the plot, and low notes with the main characters. Strangely, even with the essential qualities and flaws present, they seem two- rather than three-dimensional. Becca Hays, Maggie's antagonist, proved deliciously cruel, but exited too early. Surprisingly, little Clare steals the show.
While The Nightingale's Song doesn't exactly sing like a nightingale, it offers enough rhyme and rhythm to make it worthwhile to listen to the bird's tale.
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