Excerpt from The Nightingales of Troy by Alice Fulton, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Nightingales of Troy

By Alice Fulton

The Nightingales of Troy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jul 2008,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2009,
    256 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


“There is no need to thank me,” she said. “There is a giving that does not impoverish and a withholding that does not enrich. I have but one request.”

Nuns always want some little selfless thing in exchange for their favors, I find. God’s the same way when you think about it.

“Everything in the convent is ours, not mine. To give property without permission is a form of theft. I have been chastised in the past for giving to the indigent. I have been called more of a chemist than a Sister, more nurse than nun. I battle for obedience. Yet St. Dominic said he would sooner cut up the rule book than let it be a burden to one’s conscience. I have taken you into my confidence. I ask only that you hold my words in trust.”

“You mean keep mum?”

She nodded, and I didn’t stop to dicker. Give me that remedy! was how I felt. She told me the way to the convent’s medicine closet, a large room in the cellar that would be open at this hour. “What if I meet up with one of your sidekicks?” I wondered.

“If questioned, you must tell the truth,” she said firmly. “Tell the truth, and say St. Gregory the Great directed us to dispense to all sufferers that which they need.”

I set off for the medicine room on a trail that twisted through corridors of mostly closed doors. The worst of it was windows now and then threw rays on big framed pictures whose sudden faces scared the daylights out of me. All along, I worried some nun would creep up on the balls of her feet in high perfection behind me and ask my business. I had to keep thinking of the baby and of all the cures I’d tried to no avail. When I got to the convent’s depths, which were dim and dank as a root cellar, I wished especially for a lamp. But I remembered “Tekakwitha” meant “she who cuts the way before her” and felt steadier. At long last, I arrived at the third left-hand door of the west wing. In the sincere hope that I had not gone off course, I stopped and turned the knob.

My eyes had a tolerance for darkness by now. I could make out a long table of ledgers and accounts, along with stacks of labels, stamps, and envelopes. It looked like a tidy business for the Sisters, and I wished them well. To my left, I saw shelves holding small white cakes and bottles. Seizing one, I read the Indian Perfection label thrice. I’d already knotted the Bayer Heroin in my apron corner, and now I rolled the remedy in this garment and tucked the hem at my waist. It was high time, too, for a bell was tolling. And since early and provident fear is the mother of safety, and I’d as lief have my wolf teeth pulled as be caught red-handed, I fled.

S

That fall was damp as a gravedigger’s skin. By November I’d developed a hectic fever that left pink circles in my cheeks. Before the winter zeros struck, I thought I’d better mend my lacy lung with Sister’s remedy. Whether it was her medicine or the disease itself, by some means I was lifted into the high altitudes of hope and held there. I somehow kept my cheer, and in April the last shrouds of snow melted. Though I was large as Jumbo by then, the work of the farm would not allow me to remove myself from view as some think prudent.

One Saturday, having finished the morning chores and served a bountiful hot lunch, I was on my knees scrubbing the kitchen oilcloth and thinking about Kitty. That one isn’t one to make love to the corners! I was thinking. Why, I’ve seen her grab a pair of silk drawers and begin dusting if she heard a neighbor on the steps. When I opened her trunk to get fresh linen, a swarm of mothmillers flew out, and we had to fumigate. Such were my thoughts when I felt the first pain. I didn’t trust it since the baby had been incubating only eight months by my reckoning. And even if it was not a false alarm, it takes time for pain to work itself into a birth. Joe and Bill were leaving for town, but reasoning thus, I said nothing.

Reprinted from The Nightingales of Troy by Alice Fulton. Copyright (c) 2008. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.