Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#BookReview: The Secret of the Nightingale Palace - Dana Sachs

Goldie Rubin Feld Rosenthal bites her tongue for no one, not even her granddaughter Anna, not even if it means hurting her feelings.  It would be easy to blame it on her advanced age, but Goldie has always marched to the beat of a different drummer and seen life in ways that others didn't.  Indeed, Goldie was born with chutzpah.  It's her outspokenness that has lead to a five year estrangement from her youngest grandchild.

After losing the husband that she was in all probability losing before his death, Anna finds herself in-between.  For two years she's been stuck, no longer passionate about her career as an illustrator, not really passionate about anything.  When her grandmother requests her presence in New York, Anna would love to tell her she is too busy to drop everything and come running, but in reality, she's anything but.

As Goldie and Anna set out to drive from New York to San Francisco in Goldie's Rolls-Royce, only Goldie knows the real reason for their trip.  You can't teach someone to be audacious and bold with their decisions or can you?

When I first started this, I thought I was about to encounter another unnecessarily mean grandmother like the one in Goldberg Variations, but was pleasantly surprised to find that Goldie wasn't like that at all.  She didn't always express herself well when talking with Anna, but her love and concern was always apparent.  As someone that has reinvented herself more than once, Goldie knows that it's possible for Anna to move past the rut she's stuck in and find happiness in a revamped model of her former self.

Sachs touches on a moment in history that is rarely mentioned in history books, let alone fiction, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  It was interesting to get the perspectives from Mayumi and Henry as Japanese Americans, as well as Goldie.  As equally fascinating is the story behind the meaning of 'Nightingale Palace' and the role it plays in Goldie's life.

Published: February 2013
Disclosure: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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