Luan Goldie: Nightingale Point
Published By: HQ Stories
Available to buy online, and at all good book shops..
What The Blurb Says:
On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.
Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.
It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.
What I Say:
I am going to be honest with you all, and say from the outset, that if I had known what Nightingale Point was about, I don’t think I would have asked for a copy to read and review. Not because of the setting, or the subject matter (more of that later), but because of one character. Elvis.
Elvis is a young man with learning disabilities who lives in Nightingale Point, and is visited by his seemingly disinterested, go through the motions, tick the box carer. He is there because it is deemed the most appropriate place for him in our community, and he has to deal with navigating life and all it throws at him in a world where he is seemingly a statistic to be analysed.
The thing is, while Elvis is content with his life, able to cope with living semi independently in his flat, it is the attitude and behaviour of those around him in Nightingale Point flats who have little understanding and even less tolerance. I found these chapters so hard to read, and had to stop and gather myself before reading the rest, because it was all too real, a snapshot of a future for my eldest son who, like Elvis, has learning disabilities. and one which I cannot comprehend having to face.
Why are my personal reactions to one resident remotely relevant when discussing Luan’s novel about a block of flats filled with lots of people? To have an emotional reaction to something so personal means that Luan has absolutely understood the subject she is writing about, and it is testament to her skill as a writer that I didn’t want to stop reading, and couldn’t put this novel down.
After all isn’t that the thing about literature, that it not only entertains, but also educates and challenges us?
Luan has written an emotional and powerful novel that not only made me confront a part of my life that I have always conveniently put to the back of my mind, but she also writes so eloquently and passionately about all the residents, that you fall into the novel and only surface when you have lived through their experiences and gained a deeper understanding of what life is really like for them.
As well as Elvis, we meet brothers Tristan and Malachi, Mary, and Pamela. The one thing they have in common at the start of the novel is that they are all residents of Nightingale Point. By the end of the novel, they have another thing in common, that one Saturday morning, their lives will never be the same again.
Malachi is responsible for Tristan, as his mother is no longer around, and he is trying to balance his own studying with doing everything he has to in order to ensure that his brother can live with him. As well as keeping their heads above water, Malachi has fallen in love with Pamela, a girl who lives in a flat upstairs with her overbearing and controlling father. Their relationship is carried out in snatched moments and lies to those around them so that they can spend some precious time together. Unfortunately when Pamela’s father finds out, he makes a decision that on that day will have devastating consequences.
As Mary struggles with her day to day life, she is torn between being faithful to her increasingly absent husband, and allowing herself to live the life she truly deserves. Mary is a kind and thoughtful woman, who has made a promise to look after Malachi and Tristan, and is in essence the mother figure they both desperately need. As the novel progresses, you really understand how Mary is trapped by what other people expect, and that her desire to live the life she wants is suppressed by the fear of other people’s disapproval.
Nightingale Point is not simply a novel of their everyday life, but you have to read all about these people to appreciate why this is such an important part of the story. To understand the enormity of what happens to all the residents, you have to know their stories, to understand why they are there and what makes them who they are. It is only then, when we are totally engaged with the characters, that Luan shifts the narrative and suddenly their world is no longer limited to their flats and estate.
Something monumental happens to them all (you know me by now, no spoilers – you have to read it!) and Nightingale Point is now a novel about finding your way in a life you never thought would be yours. For Tristan, Malachi, Pamela. Mary and Elvis, they will never be the same people again as when they woke up on that Saturday morning.
Luan’s tender exploration of lives changed beyond recognition, draws us even closer to her characters, and as we follow them in the aftermath of Nightingale Point’s drama, we see how they all are simply people like us, trying to find their way back to a world they took for granted. All of them are bonded together by what they have experienced, but they all react differently and emerge from the darkness with a renewed understanding and desire to live the lives they deserve, rather than the ones they have accepted.
I loved it – and Elvis will always hold a special place in my heart.