5. Secret For a Nightingale by Victoria Holt (1986)
Where did it come from? From a 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 that her husband has suddenly and inexplicably changed: he reveals a darkly brooding and dangerous side; a disturbing infatuation with the occult and a penchant for opium. But most fearsome of all, is Aubrey’s strange association with Dr. Damian Adair, a mysterious figure who exerts a sinister influence over her husband.
Susanna is terrified for both herself and her husband, and when Aubrey’s frightening behavior eventually leads to tragedy, Susanna flees. In her mind, there is only one person to blame for all this horror – Damian Adair. She is determined to have her own vengeance against the man who effectively ruined her life.
Carefully guarding her past – keeping her dark secrets to herself – Susanna travels to the Middle East and lends her assistance during the Crimean War. She begins a completely new life as a nurse, working beside the legendary Florence Nightingale. It is in the Middle East where fate eventually brings the mysterious Dr. Adair back into her life.
And it is during her time spent in the Middle East that Susanna discovers a surprising truth about herself: her blazing desire for revenge has waned, becoming tempered with a baffling new emotion. Is it possible that her once unforgiving heart has seemingly changed; suddenly crossing the boundary between hate…and love?
First of all, let me say that while I have read a number of books written by this same author under two of her pseudonyms – Jean Plaidy and Phillppa Carr – I don’t think I’ve read anything written under the pseudonym Victoria Holt. In my opinion, this story was unexpectedly complex and I enjoyed it very much. I give this book an A+!
A+! – (96-100%)