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Nightingale Wood: A Novel Paperback – April 27, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

NIGHTINGALE WOOD is in essence, a sprawling, delightful, eccentric fairy tale ... There is romance galore, a transformative dress, and a ball, much dizzy kissing in hedgerows and beyond, spying, retribution and runaways, fights and a fire, poetry and heartbreak, a few weddings AND funerals, and a fairytale ending with a twist. What luxury to stumble upon this quirky book, and the fascinating modern woman who wrote it. It is a rare unadulterated pleasure and high time for its encore Sophie Dahl --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Stella Dorothea Gibbons, novelist, poet and short-story writer, was born in London in 1902. She went to the North London Collegiate School and studied journalism at University College, London. She then worked for ten years on various papers, including the Evening Standard.

Her first publication was a book of poems The Mountain Beast (1930) and her first novel Cold Comfort Farm (1932) won the Femina Vie Heuruse Prize for 1933. Amongst her other novels are Miss Linsey and Pa (1936), Nightingale Wood (1938), Westwood (1946), Conference at Cold Comfort Farm (1959) and Beside the Pearly Water (1954). Her Collected Poems appeared in 1950.

In 1933 she married the actor and singer Allan Webb, who died in 1959. They had one daughter. Stella Gibbons died in 1989.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143117572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143117575
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #807,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had to request this book through an out of state library because it is so rare, particularly here in the U.S. I hope it is put back into print because it is quite good. Maybe not as good as Cold Comfort Farm but anyone who likes Stella's masterpiece would probably enjoy this one. It basically follows her usual fairy tale format, with just a bit of Jane Austen thrown in and focuses on life in a small village and its upperclass residents (and some of its lower class ones). I won't go into the plot details as there is a fairly lengthy description on Ms. Gibbons' nephew's website. It would be difficult to convey the best part of the book, which is the biting humor, so you'll have to check it out for yourself, which I urge anyone who liked Cold Comfort Farm to do.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lovers of Stella Gibson's Cold Comfort Farm (her first novel), should know this is a wiser, deeper and funnier book. Using fairy tales and Shakespeare comedies as plot devices (The Tempest, A Mid-Summer's Night's Dream, Cinderella, Snow White and Red Rose....)and set in an Essex Village in 1938, it examines (punctures) the British class system and middle-class snobbery, anti-semitism and the totalitarian family system. The characters are funny, human and the writing is wonderful...and it ends as all comedies should in a marriage (or two) and paired sets of lovers...
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Format: Paperback
Viola is newly widowed when she's invited by her husband's family to come live with them in Sible Pelden. There's Mr. Wither, who's a fantastic bore; Mrs. Wither, who doesn't quite care for her new daughter-in-law (due to the fact that she's the daughter of a shop owner); and Tina and Madge, their middle-aged daughters who have never quite grown up and are waiting for something to happen to them. The story follows these characters and others over the course of a year, the highlight being a charity ball at which a local eligible bachelor named Victor Spring will be present.

One of the things that Stella Gibbons is famous for was her sense of humor, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Nightingale Wood. Stella Gibbons's humor is a little more maniacally funny, but the characters and plot of this one never fail to be entertaining.

There's a very surreal, Midsummer Night's Dream-esque feeling to this book--all kinds of people slipping away to the woods to conduct love affairs, licit and otherwise. So, often, this book reads like a fairy tale--a fairy tale with a twist, especially since the two Prince Charmings in this book doesn't always have the purest intentions...

The characterizations in this novel are especially strong. Viola isn't quite what you'd expect from a woman who married someone twenty years older than she; but she's all the more interesting for that because there's so much more to her personality than meets the eye. Mr. Wither is, as described above, a frightful bore; Madge is a middle-aged woman who's never totally grown up (as seen in her childlike delight over her new dog Polo); and Tina is a woman just dying to be loved. Well, she gets her wish, but not in the way she expected...
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By Jill on August 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was glad to get my hands on a copy of this book. Unlike Cold Comfort Farm, however (which I read over and over again), I probably won't re-read this one. I didn't warm up to any of the characters. Still, Gibbons' wit and humor shines through in places, and there are garden parties, a memorable dress, moonlit drives, and holidays at seaside resorts - so if you like the 1930s, the language, settings and atmosphere of the novel will be of interest, anyway!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From the lady who brought us Cold Comfort Farm comes a slightly more serious, but no less sarcastic, novel. Gibbon has the happy ability, shared by so few (Dickens and Austen come to mind), of being able to deliver a Work of Literature in a way that feels more like sitting in a sunbeam eating fairy floss.

There's no Flora Post in this one, but it's still populated with eccentric and memorable characters. There's Mr Wither, the patriarch, who "liked to feel money on all sides of him, like a stout fence"; his wife, of whom we are told, "Mrs Wither came in, but he took no notice of her because he had seen her before"; their elder daughter Madge, who wondered, "Who'd want a baby when they could have a dog?"; younger daughter Tina, who at 35 read a book on feminine psychology, looked into her soul, and discovered that she wanted to be sensible, but not as much as she wanted the family's (much younger) chauffeur; and Viola, the young widowed daughter-in-law, who "did not look quite a lady, which was natural; as she was not one." Between all the zingers there are some taut observations about the nature of happiness and family relationships, and it all adds up to a proper treasure of a novel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stella Gibbons wrote in the late 1930s of a life that is about to disappear. Reading this delightful novel in the light of the shadow of the war adds to the pleasure of seeing a beautiful moment in time at the end of an age.

Nobody is flawless in this novel, & that's what makes it so fine! The heroine is a shopgirl of great heart but minimal understanding, her family is a mess, her would-be lover is far from perfect but it all comes right at the end in fine style -as we knew it would. Great story, understandable if not always lovable characters & terrific fun throughout. I wish Stella Gibbons could give us more & more, but alas! SHE is no more!
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