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 by Alice Fulton
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2008, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2009, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


“Is this what Sister was doing when she took that bad turn?”

“Yes, and I was helping her,” said Edna with a proud little smile.

“You were helping her harvest opium,” I said. I got up and stood with arms akimbo, thinking. If Sister’s remedy was mostly opium, like Black Drop or Laudanum, I might have become a dope fiend. Hoarding the medicine for tonight’s baby was all that saved me. Now I had to weigh the danger of opium against the danger of pain. Most of all, I wanted this baby to be protected by the power of good. And I thought Sister Honoraria was a good woman, even if she was a bad nun. As I stood thinking, my waters broke.

I marched into the bedroom where Kitty was sleeping. “See here, Clara Lazarus,” I said. “It’s time to rise from the dead. I need streetcar courtesy. I have to push this baby out.”

“Oh, Mamie, I am a wretch. Forgive me,” she said. I lay down in a sweat and would have taken Sister’s medicine, opium or no, but I could not afford to be dopey until the doctor got here. It must have been near midnight. I sent Joe wireless messages in my mind: Come home, come home.

Charlotte brought me a saucer of dark fruit. “What have we here?” I gasped.

“Kitty says they are little black-coated workers.” She looked at me with her bashful, born-yesterday eyes. I set the prunes down carefully and told her to fetch the blessed candle from the parlor.

My mother, Peg Flynn, had unfastened every knot or button, door or stall, while I was having baby Dorothy. She supposed so much opening would help the infant enter the world. Thanks to her, baby Dorothy was welcomed into a household of men with their garments falling off and an old bossy in the kitchen. I wanted this child to be born newfangled and free of Irish hoodoo. But I’d kept a copy of a prayer my mother had recited, and I asked Edna to fetch it from the dresser’s depths. It was written on vellum older than Plymouth Rock. I used the oil lamp to light the candle and read the words to myself: “Anne bore Mary; Mary, Christ Our Savior; Elizabeth, John the Baptist. So may this woman, saved in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, bear the child in her womb, be it male or female. Come forth.” That’s how it went. It ended with Latin words written so they’d read the same in any direction:

S A T O R
A R E P O
T E N E T
O P E R A
R O T A S

Though she was no scholar, my mother, Peg Flynn, said the Latin meant “I creep toward the sower and holder of the workings and the wheels.” I placed the paper on my big belly and asked Edna if she could see to read it. With a little prompting, she soon had it down pat. I told her I wanted her to recite the list of holy births in a saintly voice while Charlotte held the candle aloft. My lambs looked scared in the shaky light, but Edna set her balky tongue to the task. “ ‘Anne bore Mary - ’ ” she began.

She got no further because Charlotte yelled, Papa’s home! just then, and the spell was broken. A moment later, Joe was standing at the bedroom door. He had mea culpa written all over him, but I was happy to see him in good health. “How are you, Mamie?” he said, with hat in hand.

“I am fully delighted,” I replied. His face was barn-red, and he looked more at a loss for words than always. “Where are the groceries, Joe?” I asked.

“I guess we lost track of time in the grill, and the team got tired of waiting for us.”

He was standing like somebody rusted in place, and I told him he’d better go after Doc Muswell. “If he’s out on a call, don’t write childbirth on the slate or he’ll mosey along. Write fully delighted,” I said. Joe repeated this. “You heard,” I said.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Before We Sleep
    Before We Sleep
    by Jeffrey Lent
    Katey Snow, aged seventeen, leaves home one night. "There was a void within her and one that could ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Hermit
    by Thomas Rydahl
    If you can be comfortable with Scandinavian noir played out against the sun-drenched backdrop of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Radium Girls
    The Radium Girls
    by Kate Moore
    In 1915, Austrian-born Sabin von Sochocky developed a luminescent paint that used radium to create a...

Win this book!
Win News of the World

News of the World

A brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Weight of Ink
    by Rachel Kadish

    An intellectual, suspenseful, and entertaining page-turner.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T's S I Numbers

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.