Susan May Warren's "Nightingale" is a tale of grace and forgiveness. Esther, a nurse and single mother, is trapped by a sin she committed, trying to atone for it, and unable to feel clean again; Peter, a surgeon, was trapped in a war and is now held prisoner by the side with which he best associates. They meet through letters first, after Peter tries to save her fiancé Linus as he lay wounded on the battlefield. Linus passes a letter written to Esther for Peter to mail, and through this strikes up a connection with Esther, who writes back for more details. Over the letters their friendship grows, though their faults and secrets are hidden until they finally meet in person.
Warren has a fairly poetical style of writing, which is a nice change after many novels with a more straightforward style. However, I tend to read quickly - sometimes too quickly - so I occasionally lost track of exactly what was happening due largely to the writing. There is also a fair amount of jumping back and forth with memories, so it took a moment or too to figure out where I was in the story - present or past.
This is a mature novel - not that there are scenes of steamy passion, but that it deals with hard subjects, such as a fallen woman trying to make things right. So many of the characters, from Esther to the wounded soldiers to even Peter at times, lack hope. And if one lacks hope, how much faith can one have left? For "faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). Esther does not believe that she can attain forgiveness for her actions, and so many of the soldiers believe there is no life for them anymore, crippled as they are. They have lost both hope and faith. The characters are very flawed, but Jesus came to save such souls as these; His grace proves sufficient.
Prior to reading this novel, I had not known that during WWII there were prisoner of war camps in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, where the German soldiers were held, nor did I give much thought to what happened when the Russians occupied East Germany.
This was a good story, with less-than-well-known but fascinating history behind it, but it is not an easy read - not in the subject matter nor in the writing style. "Nightingale" demands one's full attention.
Despite all the great reviews, you might still be hesitating over buying this book, perhaps because you haven't read the first book in the series, or because Susan May Warren's books are too lighthearted for your taste. Don't worry. Buy the book. Why?
Firstly, the above product description is only half right. The hero is Peter Hess, an army medic from Iowa. There is no Wolfgang in the book - I can only assume that the description above was written during the planning stages of the book.
Secondly, although this book is the second in the Brothers in Arms collection, it is a stand-alone novel. I bought Sons of Thunder, but have to admit that I just couldn't get into it so never finished it (probably because I was in the mood for a lighthearted romance, and books set during a war can't really do lighthearted). But I enjoyed Nightingale so much, even without reading Thunder first, that I'll have to go back now to see what I missed.
Thirdly, this book is a departure from Susan May Warren's lighthearted contemporary romances (e.g. Deep Haven series or the Josie series) and her romantic suspense novels (Team Hope or Noble Legacy). In it, Warren proves that she can research and write historical as well as contemporary fiction, an achievement not many authors can carry off.
So what is the book about? It tells the story of Esther, nurse and single mother, who is living in the home of her fiance's controlling parents while he is fighting in World War II in Europe. She receives a letter from Peter Hess, an army medic who treated her fiance, Linus, as he lay dying in the battlefield. Esther has conflicting emotions at the thought that Linus is dead, as she never loved him, and she is strangely attracted by the letter from the stranger, so she begins a correspondence with him that has unexpected consequences. Nightingale addresses deeper issues than Warren's previous works, touching on the nature of forgiveness and how God can move us on from our mistakes. Well worth reading.
It's 1945 and the United States is at war. Soldiers are fighting, bleeding, dying. Families at home are praying for their sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews, boyfriends.
All Germans are considered Nazi, regardless of where they were born. Even Americans who look German are ridiculed. And those who went back to the home country at the wrong time? They got drafted into the German army, fighting against their homeland, America. Many cannot stand what Hitler is doing, and yet if they flee, they will be shot.
Back home, nurses are caring for the wounded as they return. They know what is happening oversees; they see the limbs lost, the men suffering. They are friends with others who have lost loved ones in the war.
This is the setting for Nightingale. Only, Esther Lange isn't pining for her fiancée, fighting oversees. She doesn't actually love him. But since they have a child together, she figures they really should get married. One day, she receives a letter from another soldier, informing her that Linus is dead. She writes back to the soldier, asking how he died. Soon Esther and Peter begin corresponding back and forth. Once Esther finds out that Peter is a German American, unwillingly fighting on the wrong side, she wonders if things could really work out between them.
This was a very enjoyable book. In that time in history, if a girl got pregnant out of wedlock, the boy did the right thing and married her. But what happened when the girl didn't want to marry him? Susan May Warren addresses this question in a book that I recommend to anyone that likes historical fiction.
------------------------------- I received this complementary book from Christian Review of Books in return for my honest review.
An american nurse with a past she would like to bury and forget, begins corresponding with a soldier who is also a doctor. Then her diance returns and she discovers that the man she was corresponding with isn't who she thought. But she has fallen in love with him. Then all hell breaks lose.
After reading Happily Ever After a few years back (it is one of those books that are too good to review, but I have to try and do it someday), I thought Susan May Warren might well be one of my most favorite authors in the christian fiction genre. After reading this book, I'm sure of it.
This is an incredible story. There is danger and romance and God in this book. Everyone is broken in this book. The war has come and interrupted their lives and now that it is finally over and they can go back to whoever they were before it happened, they find that they can't. Gils miss their dead fiancees. Mother can't find their sons. The soldiers have lost legs and arms and their sanity. They dream of bombs, they hear cries in their sleep.
Esther, the heroine, is sure God is angry with her. She needs to be found out. She needs forgiveness. Peter is a boy who is a very long way from home. He too needs to be found. He also needs forgiveness. And Linus. And Caroline. And Rosie. And Mrs. Hahn. And the reader.
Perhaps there were too many descriptions of the characters' inner thoughts, because I found myself skipping pages containing information I had already been told or had guessed already. That was my only problem with this book, but truth be told it didn't bother me at all. And I can see how that might be necessary for some readers, to understand how God speaks to the human soul, and how much attention you must pay to be able to hear Him. I was truly blessed by this book, I learned a lot about forgiveness and second chances. And who doesn't need both these things?
I really hated the injustice pictured in the story, the prejudice and the terrible injustice. But that is what a good book is supposed to make happen. It's supposed to make you angry, to make you want to cry, to make you smile. To make you feel. And I certainly felt a lot of things while reading this one, from anger, to joy, to sadness, to elation, to thankfulness.
Romance is always my weak spot when it comes to book, and I am happy to report that the romance in this book was breathtaking. It actually took my breath away in one scene, I am not exaggerating. It was tender and sweet and caring. Like the way God treats us.
P.S. Don't let the bookcover mislead you, the heroine is actually a very sweet, humble, caring woman. I almost didn't buy this book because of its cover, but I am sooo glad I overlooked it.
I first reviewed this book on my blog http://bookshelfstories.blgospot.com
Note: The hero's name is Peter Hess. It is not Wolfgang. It looks like none of the places online caught up to that change...
Now for my review...
Wow. Wow. Wow. This was one of those books that is both tender and gut-wrenching. It was romantic and suspenseful. It was filled with historical detail and characterization that was rewarding to read and planted me firmly in that time period. I especially loved the letters. And the romance was breath-taking. It totally swept me away. Seriously.
Nightingale holds so much spiritual truth and depth. I found the novel to be not only entertaining, but insightful, complex and rewarding to read. It loved it not just because it was a good story, but like Sons of Thunder, it was a story that went way beyond the surface. It was a story that touched me deeply. I am totally in love with Susan May Warren's historicals. I just wish I'd read this sooner, like when it first released in November so it could have made my favorites list. This is the kind of story that has the potential to be life changing. It really stirred my heart and left me with a glow at the end that was hard to shake.
I love having a lump in my throat and feeling my heart ache because I care so much about the characters. This story made me feel like I was sitting at the edge of my seat several times. I didn't want to do anything else. I had to see what happened. Will she or won't she? Could she or shouldn't she? Does he or doesn't he? Lots of questions and very rich in detail. Also, the answers that were given weren't pat answers, but ones that were true to life. I really loved this story. I can't say too much because many of the key points that spoke to my heart would also be spoilers if I shared them. Guess you'll just have to read this one yourself to find out why I loved it so much.
When you read about this period and this war, you always wonder how these Germans could have went along with all the horrid things they were to do to the Jews. And you never think that they didn't all have the same opinion as Adolf Hitler. But many didn't want to fight in this war. Once you are in the military it's your duty to do as you are ordered. And all the things "ordered" are not right. This story showed that Peter was just that kind of soldier. He loved his country just not what his country was involved in at this time in history. I think we can all relate to this story. And Linus and Esther was caught up in the throws of war of their own. The things all these soldiers,doctors,nurses.etc. had to endure are commendable at best. We can never praise our soldiers,medics,service people enough. This is worth reading also for the history it entails. Another great read!
I was 100% with Susan in this wonderful and unique story until the last couple of pages when Rosemary and Esther "had" to become friends. In a time when blended families are SADLY the norm this might have happened; but NO way in the 40's. Rosemary and Linus would have had their life utterly separate from any contact with Esther and "her" daughter. Up until that point - a really entertaining story.
Susan May Warren has come through with another winner with Nightingale. Set at the end of World War 2, the angst of decisions made in haste eats away at the main characters of the story. I related to the story as it brought to memory my husband's parents' whirlwind romance in 1942. This could have been their story, given the circumstances and the manner of their meeting.
As I read the book, I kept thinking of the verse in Isaiah that says: "To all who mourn . . . [God] will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair" (61:3 NLT). Esther and Peter learn the truth of this verse as they draw closer to God through the circumstances of their past and present.
As a writer and editor, I appreciate Susan's books on another level, as well. After sitting in her Storycrafter's Seminar last month in Denver, I have a vivid example of how she puts her craft to work in creating a satisfying story.
For anyone who loves historical fiction, I highly recommend this book.
(This book was provided by LitFuse Publicity Group for review.)
Historical fiction is my favorite kind—especially when the story covers an aspect of history that I don’t know much about. That’s what "Nightingale" does. The historical part of the story focuses on the unique and sticky struggles faced by Germans living in America during World War II. Imagine the issues that would have come up with German POW’s living in camps in America surrounded by some of their own relatives and friends who’d migrated and were living as free Americans, yet whose loyalties would have been a concern. This element of the story reminded me of the book made movie,“Summer of My German Soldier.”
Yet history is only the background for this story that really is about God’s love, forgiveness, and grace. Characters who have lost themselves in the sins of their past are found again in Christ. They learn that they don’t have to stay prisoners of their mistakes. They can’t live lives that will make them respectable in spite of their wrong choices. But they can turn to God Who will gladly set them free and enable them to live His way.
I enjoyed and recommend this book—an intense and interesting story with a beautiful Christian message and lessons in history. If those are book elements you appreciate, you’ll like reading "Nightingale," too.
I gladly thank the Litfuse Publicity Group for sending this book for my review.
Nightingale is listed as a romance. Historical romance. It didn't hurt that the story included scenes of Esther working in the airplane. Since my husband is a pilot I seem to be drawn to stories that include flying.
But what really grabbed me was the relationship of two women. A friendship that Esther tried to shove away. But somehow Caroline didn't give up.
The bonding between the two nurses is what let each one keep their sanity in a world gone crazy by war. Friendship is real and can last forever.
A history of Nazis, WWII, amazing characters and an author's love are what make up this second installment in Susan May Warren's Brothers in Arms collection. As I am typing this review, I am trying to determine which I liked best: Sons of Thunder, the first installment, or this one. I really LOVED Sons of Thunder so it's hard to top it. Nightingale is full of historical details in an era that many people seem to have forgotten. An era that I would love to have been a part of...it just fascinates me to read about the way things were, how close people were and the styles of clothing (I know, I'm weird. What can I say? I was born about 40-50 years too late.). Susan's particular attention to every little historical detail was phenomenal. Add a plot line that seems to come to life before the reader's eyes, and this book ranks up there with Sons of Thunder.
This novel has such an epic plot and incredible characters. Esther's beautiful character immediately captured me. I was back in time, working beside Esther and her friend, Caroline as a Red Cross nurse. The 1940's came to life, as I said above, for me as I read Esther's story, felt her inner turmoil and confusion that one night of passion in the backseat of a soldier's car caused her. It was a wonderful and sad feeling all wrapped up in one.
Peter, the medic Esther writes to after receiving a letter from her fiance Linus saying he was dead, really tugged at my heart. The letters he wrote to Esther were so sweet and felt like it was a REAL soldier writing. He just wanted Esther to feel loved and wanted. His character really filled this novel with depth and love. Through his letters to Esther, I started to feel jealous of her! Susan's words that she put forth in Peter's letters were just so incredible that I was wishing that it was ME that Peter was writing to and not the beautiful nightingale, Esther.
Yep, in case you didn't realize it by now, I've come to the conclusion that, while I absolutely loved Sons of Thunder, Nightingale has topped it for me. Five star worthy and highly recommended to everyone. Military, romance, history and God's redeeming love of second chances make up this truly epic novel! I can't wait until Susan May Warren writes book three, Part the Waters, for this collection!
Nightingale by Susan May Warren is an excellent read. I loved the story of Esther as she tries to cope with the consequences of one night of passion with a man she doesn't love. Dealing with the stigma of being a single mother, suffering the near-abuse of her future in-laws, struggling to make a life for her daughter, Esther tries to make it on her own. Her friends - both patients and nurses at the hospital - support her and encourage her to rely on God. It's not until she meets a German prisoner through letters that she begins to understand that God really can love her and offers the forgiveness she so desperately seeks.
The use of letters in this book allows readers to get inside the minds of some of the characters. It's a unique writing style that I greatly enjoyed. The book also gives a unique perspective on World War II. I've not read many books that relate the experiences of Germans (or American-Germans) who were held in "concentration camps" in the United States.
Towards the end of the book, I felt like the story dragged a little bit. Perhaps it could have been resolved a little sooner. However, overall I enjoyed the story and will look for future installments of this series.
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my participation in this blog tour. I was not required to give a positive review.
I didn’t like this book as much as the first book in the series, Sons of Thunder, but I did like it. It was SO different from Sons of Thunder! The plot, the style, almost everything was so different. But, like the first book, this has a strong faith message and a message about being redeemed through Christ. I liked that the Esther was a “fallen woman” who was searching for what was missing in her life. However, I didn’t feel very close to her. That may have been because of the POV changes to the main male lead, but I’m not sure. I just didn’t get totally caught up in her story.
Part of the reason I didn’t really connect with this book may have been because I was trying to read it quickly. However, the book has GREAT historic details that help the era to come alive. The letters exchanged between Esther and Peter were so sweet and I really enjoyed reading them. This IS a good book in its own right, just very different from book one in the series.
Esther Lange, the main character, becomes pregnant, by a man who becomes her fiance, but the absence of true love is absent from the quick affair. It was a mistaken night of passion. Her fiance, Linus is called off to war. Although, they had never built a true relationship, Esther truly grieves when Linus is lost in battle. She receives letters sent to her by a medic, Peter, who stayed by Linus as he lay dying. They appeared to give her comfort.
Due to the warm feeling of receiving these letters, Esther starts to correspond with Peter, who says he is a wholesome farm boy from Iowa. The question is: Is he truly who he says he is ?? Although the entire book was excellent, it was the letters that made the book a work of art. The letters that went back and forth between Peter and Esther were emotional, showing love and caring and written almost in a poetic style. You could actually feel what each of them was going through.
There are secrets in this book that appear- is Peter really who he claims to be? Is Linus really dead? I will not spoil the storyline for you by telling you more details.
Esther does go through a great period of turmoil and hurtful experiences which she feels will hurt her little girl. She has to make many decisions of great importance.
The book concludes with a completely surprising ending. Happy but a total shock to me!! It is definitely a page turner and I did not want this book to end. Now I would like a follow up story. It is a story of war, not only in the world but in the inner being of the characters. Great book that I would highly recommend!!
Book was provided by LitFuse for review purposes. More reviews can be seen on this site: http://www.litfusegroup.com/Blog-Tours/nightingale-by-susan-may-warren.html)
World War II is just coming to an end but the war that is going on inside Esther Lange is unending! She can't forgive herself for the night of passion she shared with Linus Hahn in the backseat of a borrowed car, they were both headed overseas to war, and it just happened. When that night turns into a daughter for them Esther is released from the Red Cross with no place to go. So she writes Linus, and his reply is for her to go to his hometown and stay with his parents, and that's what she has been doing for the last two years, living in their attic, raising her daughter and working at a hospital taking care of the war wounded. Living with Linus' parents isn't easy, they are very hard, feeling like she trapped their son. When she receives a letter indicating that Linus may have been killed in action, she isn't sure what to believe, but one thing she knows for sure is that she is relieved, she won't have to marry a man she doesn't love,and barely even knows. She really believes that she was no more than a one night stand for Linus as well, and it soon comes to light that Linus had a longstanding girlfriend who works in the same hospital as Esther,and she threatens to make Esther pay for stealing Linus away from her! Since there has been no other information about Linus she starts corresponding with Peter Hess the medic who sent her the information about Linus. Soon they develop a friendship, and when it starts to develop into something more, but when Peter's secret is exposed can they overcome it, and will Esther ever forgive herself for the mistake she made? This was an amazing story, just when you thought things were working out the author throws a monkey wrench into it that take it in the opposite direction. The feelings are so strongly written in this book, that you are easily transported back to war time America. You can also feel the turmoil going on inside Esther, she judges herself so harshly for the mistake she made that night and is unwilling to see that she has already been forgiven by God, she just needs to accept it! Peter's story was one I kept thinking of long after I finished reading it, he was such a kind person, a victim of circumstances really, but he always kept his faith in God.The letters that passed between Peter and Esther were such a treat to read, I enjoyed seeing their friendship blossom.
I found this book a real joy to read, the author does an amazing job of taking a work of fiction and weaving a bit of a history lesson in. While this was my first time reading anything from Susan May Warren, it certainly won't be my last!
Even though I was provided a review copy by Litfuse it in no way alters my opinion of this book.
Easter Lange loved her fiance' or though she did. She had a one time stand with him in the back of a car and from that union she had a little girl. Linus went to war and when he found out about the baby he had sent her to live with his very proper parents. She lived in the attic with her little girl but she also worked as a nurse at the hospital. Her family had shunned her when they found out about her pregnancy so she had no where else to go.
Meanwhile in Germany Linus had been wounded really bad and gave the medic a letter to send to Easter, when she received it in another letter from the medic, she would not open it as she knew that Linus was dead. She also kept this from his parents. She kept writing back and forth to the medic whose name is Peter. He lived in Markesan Wisconsin and she lived a way from him but within a days ride by train, so her friend talked into going to meet him. When she got there she found out he was a POW from Germany. She ran away as she could not believe he was a Gemany soldier
Different things begin to happen, she found Peter at the hospital where she worked as he had been beaten up and was very bad. She also was treating Charlie who had lost a leg in the war and then had jumped off the top of the hospital but some how survived but didn't know anyone.
The POW camp was moved to their city and some of the Germans hated the Americans and plotted ways to get even. You must read this book, it is packed full of anything you may want to read. History, nurses, doctors, farmers and so on. Susan May Warren did a great job on this one.
Thanks to Amy at Litfuse Publicity Group for review.