2011: 11. Nightingale Wood

“It is difficult to make a dull garden, but old Mr. Wither had succeeded.”

Nightingale Wood, Stella Gibbons

        This is a very fun read by the author of one of my favorite books, Cold Comfort Farm.*  It’s not quite as satirical as Cold Comfort, but it’s still takes society at not-quite-face value, and the writing is just as funny and crisp.

         It’s the story of Viola, who is a young widow, and some what of a drip/shrinking violet (see what Gibbons did there?).  When her husband (who she wasn’t really that fond of, and basically married because she didn’t have the back bone to say n0), dies, and leaves her penniless, she is forced to go live with his parents and sisters in their big house in the country.  The parents look down on her lower class status (the quote is, “She did not look quite like a lady, which was natural, as she was not one.”), the sisters are too wrapped up in their own misery to give her much thought, and she is pretty miserable.  She dreams of the local prince charming, Victor Springs, and how happy she could be with him.  

         Which is all to say, yes, it’s a modern (well, 1920’s, but modern at the time she wrote it) Cinderella story.  But what’s so fun about it, is that every characters from Cinderella and the prince to the evil stepsisters - are both foolish and a bit ridiculous - but also sympathetic and rootable.  In short - they are human characters trapped within a comic novel, and the whole thing is a delight.  This is a recent reissue - it makes me wish they’d reissue more of Gibbons’ back catalogue. 

Categories:   Fiction


*which I just realize that I seem to have to lost my copy of.  HORROR.  

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017