Review: ‘American Nightingale,’ Stunning

The end of the American Civil War in 1865 was a time of hope and heartache. The nation as trying to heal after four years of combat had divided both the country and families.

That era comes to vivid life in Debra Scacciaferro’s AMERICN NIGHTINGALE.

The tumult of change bristles in her descriptions of New York City and the main setting, the Catskill Mountain House. Both scenes capture the conflict of the era, changing attitudes and the simmering conflict between the haves and have-nots.

Centering and exemplifying all this is Bella Gale Smith, her daughter Amanda, and Bella’s brother-in-law, Zachery Smith, who are drawn together by an opening disaster.

The story is plotted with care and filled with well-drawn characters, both heroic and villainous.

Bella and Zach carry burdens hatched during the war and their growth comes the center of the sprawling tale.

Shaped as a Victorian melodramatic romance, the story  is filled with modern details and sensibilities, the result of clever design and strong writing.

There are scenes filled with the dainty Victorian never-tell approach to life, which are mere cover for the underlying emergence of the modern American story.

Bella is a neophyte modern woman, as bold and dramatic as the changing times.

As perhaps a nod to the Victorian framework, the ending is not exactly a surprise, but fitting in this swift and detailed telling.

The story has both the lightness of a gentle, pleasant tale and the grittiness  of modern fiction.

Available on Amazon. Stunning (

About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
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