Nightingale – Andrea Bramhall

Nightingale - Andrea BramhallCharlie Porter is attending her audition for a place at University when a chance meeting in the ladies toilet changes her life. A beautiful woman gives her advice that will change what she performs and steals her heart in a moment.

Hazaar Alim is beautiful, clever and an amazing pianist. She comes from a traditional Muslim family where arranged marriage is normal and knows her father has been indulging her love of performing. She is living on borrowed time. When the call finally comes Hazaar feels she has no choice but to break both their hearts. Little does she know quite how terrible her decision will turn out to be.

Ripped apart and unable to completely get over losing the love of her life, Charlie joins the diplomatic core in a vague attempt to reconnect. She spends her life helping British women who have been abducted to Pakistan escape their forced marriages. When a call comes in saying a British women is going to be killed, Charlie will do almost anything to save her.

Fate brought them together once; time and destiny will tell whether their paths will cross again.

———-

Nightingale is an amazing and sometimes brutal tale of the fate of women forced into arranged marriages and abducted by their husband’s family to places where western law and western agencies cannot reach them. At the same time it is a wonderful romance that tells the tale of two women who’s souls connect from the very first day and are destined to love each other despite their separation. For one that love is the driver to help women in desperate circumstances. For the other it is the will to survive a despicable situation, and to live through anguish and pain.

Andrea Bramhall’s novel is timely and all too realistic. In the UK it is a known fact that too many women are forced into marriage and then taken to countries where they can be treated as slaves or held prisoner. We read frequent stories of abduction, of women being murdered for disobeying their husbands or fathers, of children disappearing. Finding and retrieving those women and children once they have left the country is an almost impossible task.

Hazaar is a wonderful character. She vibrates off the page in her passion and intensity. Her strength of character, her will to survive and the desperate choices she has to make resonate despite our lack of personal experience. She wants to stay with Charlie, she knows that is the right decision for her happiness and sanity. But when faced with the choice of saving her father’s business, and possibly his life, she cannot make the selfish choice. The consequences could literally destroy her.

Charlie is a woman done wrong by her love. She knows Hazaar is holding back some powerful secret, but has no idea how destructive that will be. When faced with the truth she lashes out in pain and runs from the agonizing drawn out end of their relationship. But she rises above her own anguish and channels her energy into saving women like Hazaar. She is a woman on a mission, dreaming of finding the woman she loves, however unrealistic, and using her skills to rescuing other women from a similar fate.

Andrea Bramhall biogBrilliantly well written, the main characters and their supporting cast are skillfully drawn. The plot is cleverly planned and the switches between the past and the present, the consulate and the compound are well handled. It is a tale of suspense that ingeniously keeps the pages turning, first to know Hazaar’s decision, and second to know her fate.

Ms Bramhall has carefully avoided making this an attack on the Muslim faith. The drivers of these criminal acts are men who lust for power and wealth. It is a story about patriarchy and ignorance, power and abuse. Of men who use the Sharia laws for their own gain and women who are powerless to stop them.

This book will move you to tears. You cannot help but feel Hazaar’s pain at the choice she feels she has to make, her despair when she realizes the consequences of that choice, and her passionate will to live despite it all. Charlie’s hollow existence will also reach out to twist your heart.

You need to read this book. There aren’t enough stars to recommend it highly enough.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (May 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KAFC8SW
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