In This Deft And Enchanting Retelling Of The Classic Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Kara Dalkey Has Mixed History And Legend, Weaving The Andersen Fable Into A Fascinating Novel About Court Life In Ancient Japan A Life Of Pageantry And Poetry, Of Great Beauty And Casual Cruelty, Of Life And Courtly Intrigue As The Men And Women Of The Royal Household Vie For The Emperor S Favor, And Each Other This Is The Story Of Uguisu, A Young Woman With An Extraordinary Gift For Song, Who Is Brought To The Emperor S Palace To Be The Greatest Of His Many Possessions Her Song Can Bring Tears To A Courtier S Eyes, But It Is Her Wit, Her Courage, And Her Heart That Must Serve Her Best Of All Over the course of the last year and a half, I have been reading Terri Windling s fairy tales series Each book was written by a different author and retold a different fairy tale, often changing the original tale to form something unique Some of the books, like Jane Yolen s Broar Rose , were brilliant, some were enjoyable and some fell very flat for me And so, I never know what to expect when I pick up one of these books The Nightingale is a retelling of a classic Hans Christian Anderson story In the original, the Emperor of China discovers a nightingale who sings the sweetest songs he ever heard At first she is treasured and loved but when the Emperor is given a fantastically jeweled clockwork bird, he rejects the nightingale and drives her from his court Eventually, he comes to regret this when the mechanical bird breaks and he is left on his deathbed with no one to sing for him But then the nightingale returns and sings so sweetly she charms death into leaving without the Emperor, saving his life In Kara Dalkey s version, the story takes place in Japan and instead of a literal bird, the nightingale in question is a young girl, Uguisu, who plays the flute Uguisu is being guided by the spirit of one of her ancestors but as she gets closer to the Emperor, she learns that her spirit guise is a malevolent one, bent on vengeance and destruction Although Uguisu is ordered to submit to the Emperor and is well placed to become Empress if she does, she refuses his advances in order to protect him Eventually, she is rejected and banished while a foreign courtesan takes her place in the Emperor s affections Still the courtesan is not what she seems and Uguisu and other faithful friends must risk everything to save their Emperor from death I thought the author was very respectful of the original story There were elements of the book seemed to echo some of Han Christian Anderson s writing I was reminded of the Little Mermaid when Uguisu chooses to save her royal lover despite the costs to herself Also bringing in the malevolent spirit made the Emperor s illness and possible death plausible to a modern audience as opposed to in the original story when the Emperor fell ill because he was pining for the Nightingale s song I also loved the use of poetry in the book It really added a lot interest and flavor to the book Overall, I would have to say that The Nightingale was definitely one of the better parts of this series and that if you have interest in fairy tale literature, then you might want to check it out. The word I would use to describe this book is utterly charming When I found this fairytale retelling set in Heian Japan, a time period I studied in college and continues to fascinate me, I knew I had to read it Minus one sensual scene and an undercurrent of the sexual freedom that was part of the Heian period, the tone of this book is very middle grade The characters remain the same, clear good and bad guys, and moral messages This isn t bad because it helps create the simplistic fairy tale mood of the story Dalkey clearly did her research and I loved living court life through the story However, there were some anachronisms such as Zen Buddhism, ronin, etc things that did not exist in the Heian era These inclusions felt like exoticizing Japan and presenting the Western image of Samurai Sushi Geisha Hello Kitty Japan instead of Japan itself I also didn t like how the sexually provacative women were, of course, evil and conniving But despite my problems, I would give this book to an early teen to spark interest in Japan and its history and hope it would inspire them to further research The Nightingale is charming with beautiful language and images, but little depth and old fashioned morality just like a fairy tales themselves. Enjoyable fantasy based on Hans Christian Andersen s tale of the same name. This book is an adaptation of the fairy tale The Nightingale, moving the story to ancient Japan instead of China The book, instead of dealing with birds, centers on a young woman flautist whose playing is so beautiful that she catches the ear of the Emperor But she is under an ancestral obligation to repay a slight done to her ancestors from the Emperor s ancestors, which would result in calamity if the Emperor touches her There are a great deal of Japanese superstitions and myths about ghosts, spirits and goddesses woven throughout the book, so I felt this was the best place for the review The book was a quick read but not all that interesting I couldn t really feel myself personally invested in the story, and the high use of little couplet poems as communication between characters I found a bit annoying. It was prettily written and generally well done, although I found the plot a bit simplistic and the characters generally uninteresting However, I d have no problem recommending it to a child or pre teen whose beginning to show some interest in this particular time and place since it isn t overly complex or difficult to understand urghh, after reading Tale of Genji, this is a cakewalk , and at the same time, it manages to be fanciful and readable Although I admit, I wouldn t give it to any daughter or female relative because I m than a little bit iffy about Uguisu as a role model, seeing as I ve never read about a woman who was such a tool She had no sense of self determination, no defining traits other than being the main character, was kinda slow, and did it ever get my blood boiling that she kept harping on about the deadbeat Emperor and actually FORGAVE him after he conveniently forgot about her as soon as he found a prettier face and didn t seem to think twice when he banished her from the palace to basically die of exposure Then again, this is Heian Japan,where a woman was considered vulgar for even showing her face in public, never mind calling out THE emperor for being seriously, there is no other word for it a schmuck which I should remind myself, was the reason me and Tale of Genji didn t agree very well Seriously, I started that book hating that disturbed, misogynistic pretty boy, but toward the end of the book I realized that everyone else was SOOO boring and that he was probably the best thing about it, thus was I mindf cked into liking that bastard I know I don t make ANY book on Heian Japan sound appealing with that opinion, but sam I am However, if your able to be a little less critical of the time and place, feel like reading just to read, and have a soft spot for fairy tales, this is definitely worth a moment of your time Not as bad as the reviews lead me to believe, but still very lackluster Lots of great details but the characters were overshadowed by the heavy handed spirit demon plot I was annoyed that the goddess solved everything, I wanted to be due to the hard work of the people involved I would have preferred that the artificial nightingale character not realize that she could only play one song It would have been interesting to have it be that the Emperor realizes she only plays one song despite the fact that she keeps trying to play different ones She has the magic to create a beautiful song to capture an Emperor s heart, but not the creativity to create new songs and that would have been a really nice touch And he would like that one song but it would wear on him like if you were able to have your favorite food, but ONLY your favorite food for the rest of your life. Kara Dalkey, The Nightingale Ace, 1988 During the late eighties, Ace Book released a series based on fairytales, of which this is one Dalkey retells the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the nightingale, changing the setting to Japan because, she says, she knows about Japan than she does China and extending it to novel length.A fine little work it is Dalkey has taken the cast of characters form the tale, expanded on it, and fleshed out the existing bunch to give us a fine little tale It is well paced, intricate, and a joy to read Along the way, the reader alsogains some knowledge of various Japanese cultural traditions Quite fun, and highly recommended. I didn t plan on liking this book, actually Tam Lin was the first of the Fairy Tale Series that I d read, and after reading a couple others, I thought I d happened upon the best of them and half decided not to bother with any others But I d put The Nightingale on hold a while ago, so when it showed up I decided to read it The prose was lovely, sweet, and delicate The setting was well drawn and understandable, even to those of us who don t know much Japanese history The characters weren t terribly compelling to me they all seemed distant and somehow unemotional And the romantic in me is muttering and grumbling about the inadequacy of the novel s love story But the story itself is an intelligent, creative departure from Hans Christian Anderson s fairy tale of the same name To be perfectly honest, it was a fairy tale I had forgotten until I read the afterward and was reminded I would recommend it without hesitation for those who enjoy fairytales, but are a bit tired of reading about Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty. Once upon a time I would read any fantasy that was based on a fairy tale I m a little selective now, and when I was recently culling my bookshelves, The Nightingale didn t make the cut It is only lightly fantasy, it s about life at court in super feudal Japan with a few supernatural elements thrown in I know about court manners than I care to know The Bridge of Birds, set in feudal China, is much entertaining.
Kara Mia Dalkey is an American author of young adult fiction and historical fantasy She was born in Los Angeles and has lived in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Seattle Much of her fiction is set in the Heian period of Japan.She was married to author John Barnes they divorced in 2001 She is a member of the Pre Joycean Fellowship and of the Scribblies She is a graduate of the Fashion In
- 215 pages
- The Nightingale
- Kara Dalkey
- 16 January 2019 Kara Dalkey