THE SECRET OF THE NIGHTINGALE PALACE, a novel by Dana Sachs, is a road trip novel but more than that it explores a grandmother/granddaughter relationship. Anna, a thirty-five year old widow has trouble finding her footing after her husband illness and death. Goldie, Anna’s feisty twice-widowed grandmother, decides its time to bury a 5-year rift between the two of them and break Anna out of her rut. The plan is to drive Goldie’s Rolls Royce from New York to San Francisco to return a piece of art in Goldie’s care for 60 years.
The story alternates between Goldie and Anna’s progress across the country in and out Hampton Inns and Goldie’s past. The road trip portion has some highlights but the gem of this novel is Goldie’s story 60 years before. Goldie arrived in San Francisco as a young, naive poor Memphis girl on the eve of World War II. In between chapters of the road trip, the reader experiences Goldie as a young stylish woman, making friends, seeking a husband and finding her fortune. In 1941, this country Jewish girl was looking for a man to provide for her but she fell for a man that she could never be with. Despite that, Goldie is a survivor and manages to find her way in the world, despite plenty of troubles. Her story is enthralling and her character is stubborn and surprising.
Sach’s second novel of a grandmother and granddaughter is a good read with moments of greatness. The end is worth the whole read.
The Secret of the Nightingale Palace was received free for review.