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The Nightingale Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (April 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441574467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441574469
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,634,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Transferring Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the nightingale from China to Japan and transforming the bird into a young woman who plays the flute causes the story to lose some of its enchantment. Although Dalkey (The Curse of the Sagamore) authentically evokes Japanese formality and ceremony, the hypocrisy of status-hungry officials becomes the focus of this novella. The emperor himself, as dupe of conflicting forces, is sympathetically drawn, and Uguisu, the flute-player who wins his heart, is sweet and docile, hiding her beauty, as custom ordains, behind a screen. A charming diversion is provided by the emperor's cat, Lady Hinata, herself the familiar of a goddess and rescuer of the banished Uguisu, who has been superseded, as in the original tale, by a bejeweled wanton. There are too many deities, however, too much inflated languagethat, unfortunately, deteriorates into bathosand too few fully fleshed characters to allow the fancy to take flight.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Mo VINE VOICE on November 8, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Nightingale is an entry in the Fairy Tale series including such notables as Briar Rose (Jane Yolen) and Snow White and Rose Red (Patricia C. Wrede). Dalkey retells the familiar story of the nightingale-- in a setting of feudal Japan rather than the original China.
Dalkey is clearly fond of Japanese culture, and her knowledge of the many different aspects of its religions is impressive. She builds an evocative Japanese background and fills it with new interpretations of an old fairy tale. The nightingale is no longer a bird, but a very human woman whose flute is a tool through which dead ancestors seek vengeance on the emperor.
Quite enjoyable; rather like her newer novels Little Sister and The Heavenward Path for an older audience.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on November 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I discovered Pamela Dean's _Tam Lin_ a couple of months ago, and ever since, I've been reading all the books in the Fairy Tale Series that I can get my hands on. _The Nightingale_ was the most recent one I read.
_The Nightingale_ makes a pretty decent "for-fun" read on a night when you just want to unwind with a story. However, it wasn't the enchantment I expected. Mostly I think that's because of the klunky historical detail that hit me over the head like an anvil every couple of words. No one ever just walks across the room in this book; they walk in their Authentic Japanese Shoes across the Authentic Japanese Floor, and arrive at the other side of the room, where they sit down on an Authentic Japanese Piece of Furniture. Dalkey wants to immerse us in the period; instead it feels like a history lecture at times. I contrast this with Ellen Steiber's novella "The Fox Wife"--in Steiber's story, we know full well that we're in feudal Japan, but the detail is subtle and flows naturally with the story. (To find "The Fox Wife", see the anthology _Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears_.) I also felt that the characters could have been developed more; the most interesting characters are the poet Shonasaki (who has only a sidekick's role), and Amaterasu, who's a goddess and not a "character" as such. Uguisu, the protagonist, just seems to be an innocuously nice girl who plays the flute much too well for a beginner, and once in a while shows some backbone that she keeps hidden the rest of the time.
Kudos, though, to the storyline involving Amaterasu (fun!) and the way the Uguisu/Takenoko/Emperor love triangle was resolved; it was done in a way that was true to the characters, rather than being formulaic. The book gets much better in the last section.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 13, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am rather fond of the story of the Nightingale (I wrote a modernized version for a Spanish class which went well), and looked for a copy of this novel for a long period of time with no success. I finally found a copy in Ashland, Oregon, while on my first visit to the Shakespeare Festival (amazing, just amazing, though this is a side note), and read it on the long trip home. I had no problems with it then, and enjoyed the story, but now having read more about Japanese folklore and spending time with people who speak Japanese, it is harder to thoroughly enjoy. "Kitsune" and "Hidoi", for example, would certainly never be used as names, and the moon deity Tsuki-Yomi is male, not female. However, if one does not take every detail too seriously, the overall spirit is engaging and the characters are endearing (except, perhaps, the Emperor, of whom we simply do not see enough). Recommended, for light reading.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 20, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kara Dalkey, The Nightingale (Ace, 1988)

During the late eighties, Ace Book released a series based on fairytales, of which this is one. Dalkey retells the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the nightingale, changing the setting to Japan (because, she says, she knows more about Japan than she does China) and extending it to novel length.

A fine little work it is. Dalkey has taken the cast of characters form the tale, expanded on it, and fleshed out the existing bunch to give us a fine little tale. It is well-paced, intricate, and a joy to read. Along the way, the reader also
gains some knowledge of various Japanese cultural traditions. Quite fun, and highly recommended. ****
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