A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war-torn Crete.
1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.
Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.
A captivating story that will mesmerise fans of Lucinda Riley, Dinah Jefferies and Tracy Rees.
Book Rating: 9/10
Atmospheric, insightful, and profoundly moving!
The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is predominantly set on the island of Crete during both the 1960s and WWII and is told from two perspectives; Jim, a young man who travels to Matala to live for the moment and be free from his stifling home life and strained relationship with his father; and Alfred, a young man embarking on a journey of survival in a time of utter devastation and destruction.
The prose is expressive, vivid, and eloquent. The characters are multi-faceted, genuine, and sympathetic. And the plot is a sweeping saga filled with life, loss, familial dynamics, secrets, determination, self-discovery, loneliness, friendship, war, survival, forgiveness, and love.
The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is truly a wonderfully written, poignant novel by Stonehill that does an exceptional job of blending historical facts, remarkable characterization, and heartfelt fiction into an incredibly moving story that reminds us that life is very precious and often all too short.
If you haven’t read my review of Stonehill’s previous novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, one of my favourite novels of all time, be sure to check it out here:
About the Author:
Rebecca Stonehill is from London but currently lives in Nairobi with her husband and three young children where she set up Magic Pencil, an initiative to give children greater access to creative writing and poetry. She has had numerous short stories published over the years, for example in Vintage Script, What the Dickens magazine, Ariadne’s Thread and Prole Books but The Poet’s Wife (Bookouture) is her first full-length novel, set in Granada during the Spanish Civil war and Franco’s dictatorship. Her second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, was published by Bookouture in June 2016.
Thank you to Rebecca Stonehill for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s always an honour!
This book is available now.
Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.
For more information on Rebecca Stonehill, visit her website at: rebeccastonehill.com
or follow her on Twitter at: @bexstonehill