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Secret for a Nightingale
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Secret for a Nightingale

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,831 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
As a young girl in India, beautiful, high-spirited Susanna Pleydell had first became aware of her special gifts to soothe the sick. But she had sacrificed that calling when she married the dashing and sophisticated Aubrey St. Clare. When they return home to London, however, Aubrey has changed. Susanna discovers she has married a man with a weakness for opium and the occult ...more
Paperback, Reprint of 000617471X
Published 1987 by Fontana (first published 1986)
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Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I’m going to make it a goal to read at least one Victoria Holt book a year. While I don’t like to read her books one right after another because they all have that similar feel, every once in a while they really hit the spot. I’m always surprised how she just sucks me right in to her story, usually starting off with the heroine’s childhood, following into the protagonist’s mysterious and romantic adventures. Holt (the amazing Eleanor Alice Burford) always manages to capture the perfect f ...more
Sarah Mac
Like everything in Victoria Holt's massive backlist, this was a quick & enjoyable book. (Don't let my slow reading time fool you; I spent two days in a fog of Insomniac Stupidz with zero attention span.) That said, this particular novel doesn't follow her usual formulas.

The story opens with Susanna's childhood recap (a familiar institution in anything Holt :P) as she explains her unconventional upbringing in India. Upon her return to the edge of the British empire, she meets & lusts for
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes historical mysteries
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
Susanna Pleydell is a beautiful, high-spirited young woman. As a young child living in India, she first became aware of her gift for healing the sick. It was truly a special gift that allowed her to soothe those in need. Yet Susanna willingly sacrifices her dream of helping others when she meets and marries the dashing and sophisticated Aubrey St. Clare.

It is only after the couple's marriage that Susanna learns something of Aubrey's true nature. When they return home to London, Susanna notices t
Emily Crow
This is one of the (unintentionally) silliest novels I've read in awhile. And the melodrama! Let's not forget the melodrama.

Susanna, the main character, has a healing gift (as her ayah in India noticed right off the bat...being a "rational" Englishwoman, it took her a while to catch on), but instead of putting it to good use, she marries the opium-addicted ne'er-do-well Aubrey St Clare (details, such as they are, to be found in the chapter entitled "Satan's Temple." I was hoping for some hair-ra
Patty Apostolides
The beginning was a bit unconventional for Victoria Holt. I don't remember any other of her stories where the heroine is treated by or treats her husband so cruelly. However, as the plot thickens, the second half of the novel more than makes up for the first, as the heroine Miss Pleydell travels to different parts of the world to nurse soldiers during war time and in the process finds the man she's been looking for, Dr. Adair, who is quite a fascinating character. Her intents is revenge, but ine ...more
Benjamin Thomas
I like to use the month of December to expand my reading choices to books I wouldn’t normally consider. While I’ve read a couple of “romances” before I wished to avoid the clichéd “bodice-ripper” style and so I turned to this author whom my mother thoroughly enjoyed and from whom I inherited this novel.

Happily, it turned out to be quite an enjoyable story. Essentially it is a historical novel about young Susanna Pleydell, born in India to English parents in the early 1840s, schooled in London, a
This book is dopey. If you’ve read Victoria Holt before, you’ll recognize certain repetitive themes. These echoes of other books is not necessarily bad, it’s just that they are put to such poor use in Secret for a Nightingale. I was looking for a pleasant, quick historical romance and unfortunately this book is unsatisfying. Warning: I discuss certain aspects of the book that may give away the inevitable happy ending.

Susanna Plydell spent her childhood in India due to her father’s position mili
Lizzi Crystal
I really loved Susanna, how she used her pain for others and became a Nightingale. She may be my favorite Holt heroine so far and I loved huge chunks of the story because of her.

In the ending scenes I had the same problem I have with most of Holt's novels - I dislike her leading men. This is the umpteenth time one of her heroes is referred to as a "sinner" with a shady past of seduction (and orgies, OKAY), and the heroine fights him while finding herself drawn to his wicked ways - it's the clas
Kayla Tornello
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Susanna's life is full of adventure. She grows up in India, returns to England for school, and then rejoins her father in India after she finishes her education. Then she returns to England and marries a man she met in India. Then her problems begin.

This book is filled with adventure as Susanna tries to find fulfillment in life. There is romance and suspense to go along with all the action. Add in the exotic settings and you've got everything you could want in a book!
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always pick a Victoria Holt novel when I just need something that is easy and intriguing. I also like the romance that Victoria Holt throws in. A little mystery, a little romance and no smut, make for a relaxing read. I love to get a drink and sit outside in the shade and read Victoria Holt - this book was no different.
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I forgot how much I liked this book! It's tied into the story of Florence Nightingale's quest to better the nursing field. A few parts were actually a bit heart-wrenching and I wasn't expecting that. Reading it as a mother was definitely a different experience than reading this as a teenager. Loved it!
Mar 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read all of Victoria Holt mystery/romance books in my 30s. Holt books are a higher caliber of romance fiction than something like Harlequins. Historically accurate. Good recreational reading with something to keep you turning pages.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-childhood
Books written by Victoria Holt are so cheesy, but sometimes that's exactly what you need. I've read a loooot of her books when I was 14/15 years old..that was the last time I've read them. I absolutely loved them at the time. I'm thinking of reading one of her books just for the old times sake! =)
Carol Kerry-green
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic-romance, 2011
There is a lot of good story telling in this book, loved all the scenes when Susanna was nursing and how she learned what she needed to know. Thought the ending wasn't quite right, but I can see how Susanna would fall for him. to my mind not a usual Victoria Holt
Heather Marie
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm 99.9% sure that I read this. The name "Aubrey St. Claire" is standing out high and bright in my mind. So I'm sure I read this. But I can't remember how it ends to save my life. Guess that means it's time to read it again!
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The heroine leaves a bad marriage and goes to be a nurse with Florence Nightingale. I loved these books in the 1970-80s and am re-reading them. I like the style Victoria Holt writes in.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Victoria Holt has always been a guilty pleasure...brings me back to my childhood. Hers were the first "adult" books I read, starting with "Mistress of Mellyn" in the 5th grade.
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Took forever to get into the book.
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! A must read!
Laura Wright
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my faves..
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good and it keeps you interested the whole time. There are a lot of twists and turns...very unpredictable, which I loved!
Diane Wachter
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
When a young British woman from India marries, she realizes her new husband is addicted to opium, everything falls apart, and she blames another man, a doctor, for his addiction. I guess I have to give it 2 stars = okay, because I did have to read it through to find out what happened. But there was so much repetition, which spoiled it for me.
Randy Dodson
i don't see why it took 371 pages to tell this story. could have done it in 250. some of the characters seem irrelevant, i.e. henrietta and leblanche.
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I got this book from my mother. It's a bit of an old read but was very interesting. The whole book was lovely and I really was very drawn to it, but the last 40 pages or so were very predictable and not written very well like the rest of the story.
I loved how many characters were woven in and out of Susanna's life. How very intersting her life in India and how she always had this magical memory of her life there. Then when she went back to England and thought she doesn't fit in until seeing for
Not one of Holt's best. In fact, during the first half of the book, it seemed doubtful that this was even a Holt novel - it just didn't 'feel' like one of her books. I struggled to get through this one. The book does get better in the last handful of chapters.

"As a young girl in India, high-spirited Susanna Pleydell first became aware of her special gifts to soothe the sick. She put aside her dream of helping others when she met the dashing and sophisticated Aubrey St. Clare. But Aubrey was not
Victoria Holt will always have a place in my heart as my first favorite author. As a teen Secret for a Nightingale had been one of my favorites, and after re-reading it as an adult I can see all the holes and threadbare dialogue, but I still can't give this a bad score.

There is a lot of telling instead of showing, and the whole first chunk of the book is told in past tense, so some events get glazed over. I'll always enjoy the romance plot of this, but everything gets cleared up way too quickly
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This compulsively readable novel is probably one of my favourites by Victoria Holt. The protagonist travels back and forth from India to England, Venice, Germany and Constantinople, which keeps the plot exciting. Yes, it might be melodramatic (especially at the beginning), but so satisfying. Also, the love interest is genuinely captivating. Victoria Holt's male leads are never that well developed, but you can feel that this one has a story of his own, and his conversations with the heroine are r ...more
Aldara Vázquez
me gustó mucho la historia que cuenta, es, como siempre, un poco de romance, un poco de misterio, y también un poco de historia, en este caso, en la época victoriana cuenta cómo se fue creando la profesión de enfermera tal como las conocemos hoy en día, y también nos cuenta cómo funcionaban los clubs de opio que tan de moda estaban.
De las de esta autora es de las que más me gustó.
Jane Gardner
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book took me right back to the 70s when I was an avid Victoria Holt fan. She really knows how to draw the reader in and make her a part of the story. The second half wasn't quite as good, but all in all, this was a wonderful novel, a definite breath of fresh air after the disappointing books I've been stuck with lately. I still love Victoria Holt!
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