Why Birds Sing

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Pub Date Oct 06 2020 | Archive Date Oct 14 2020

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A charming, deeply felt novel about human connection and finding music between the notes

When opera singer Dawn Woodward has an onstage flameout, all she wants is to be left alone. She’s soon faced with other complications the day her husband announces her estranged brother-in-law, Tariq, is undergoing cancer treatment and moving in, his temperamental parrot in tow. To make matters worse, though she can’t whistle herself, she has been tasked with teaching arias to an outspoken group of devoted siffleurs who call themselves the Warblers. Eventually, Tariq and his bird join the class, and Dawn forms unexpected friendships with her new companions. But when her marriage shows signs of trouble and Tariq’s health declines, she begins questioning her foundations, including the career that she has worked so hard to build and the true nature of love and song.

A charming, deeply felt novel about human connection and finding music between the notes

When opera singer Dawn Woodward has an onstage flameout, all she wants is to be left alone. She’s soon...

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ISBN 9781770415812

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Average rating from 33 members

Featured Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and ECW for the eARC.
What a wonderful book this is, I absolutely loved it!
Dawn Woodward is an opera singer who had a disastrous failure on stage and has been miserably
staying home, until she gets the job of leading a group of whistlers, the Wharblers. She can't whistle herself, but practices secretly at home, as well as trying to get her singing voice back. Her husband, Ash, asks her to look after her estranged brother-in-law, Tariq, who has cancer. Tariq turns up with his parrot, Tulip. They now have to try and keep Mina, her grumbling mother-in-law, away, as she would be heartbroken to know Tariq may be dying.
Tulip, in my humble opinion, is one of the best and most lovable characters in literature. I can't remember another character I enjoyed as much as Tulip in my long reading history.
The Wharblers are a diverse and eccentric group. When Dawn's marriage crumbles, Tariq, Tulip, the Wharblers and even Mina, offer her a way into a new future,
The story is uplifting and has so many interesting facts about birds, the musical world, whales, parrots and many other topics, it blew my mind. Terrific!
Do yourselves a favour and read this book!

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Oh, how I loved this book. I already have a list of ten people I want to send it to, it literally has something for everyone. Opera, birding, whistling, a parrot, a love triange and a culminating competition. Flew through this and will be thinking about it for a while.

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Dawn doesn’t need complications in her life. She’s busy brooding day after day over her flamed-out opera singing career, spending hours each day streaming her last, humiliating performance. It wasn’t what she expected for herself, but she’s on hiatus now while her voice heals, and at least now she and her husband of five years, Ash, have time to start the family they’ve always wanted. So the last thing she needs is her brother-in-law, Tariq, whom she barely knows, moving in with them. Nor does she want to tutor a bunch of quirky, amateur whistlers in need of a coach.

Tariq, who didn’t even attend their wedding, nor did he stay long at Ash and Tariq’s father’s funeral, shows up the very next day, with African Grey Parrot, Tulip, in tow. And Dawn, who storms down to her agent’s office after meeting with the whistling group, finds out that her contract with the opera company requires her to work or she doesn’t get paid. So, Dawn trudges back to meet with the amateur siffleurs (whistlers), angry and short-tempered in her dealings with them. And, she gets roped into taking Tariq to his chemotherapy appointments, as her husband can’t cancel his twice daily stops at his aging mother’s house, both breakfast and dinner, for a visit.
hat Tariq wished, without ever actually voicing his preference.

The novel is one of pain and loss, struggle and redemption, and finding that new path in life, as the one we thought we were on doesn’t always lead us where we thought.


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✨Book Review✨
Nina Berkhout's inspiring novel, Why Birds Sing, is a remarkable story about learning to appreciate the little things in life.
Dawn is a disgraced opera singer, wallowing in her misfortunes and current inability to sing. When she discovers that her brother-in-law, whom she barely knows, and his moody African Grey Parrot, will be moving into their home due to illness, she hates that her routine is about to be disturbed. To make matters worse, she's being asked to teach a class on whistling, an activity that she deems to be a complete waste of time. However, Dawn has a lot to learn about music, and people, if she is ever going to find true happiness.
I would like to start by saying that I absolutely loved this story. I love birds and the songs they sing, so the many links and parralels made between birds and people warmed my heart. Throughout the entire novel, I could imagine the most beautiful bird sounds in the background, especially during the many descriptive scenes involving birds.
At one point in the novel, the characters find themselves in Quebec, along the St. Lawrence River. These chapters are so beautifully written. I greatly enjoyed the descriptions of scenery and wildlife. Clearly, Berkhout has a soft spot in her heart for Tadoussac.
I really can't think of a single thing that I didn't love about this novel. It is one of my favourite reads of 2020. Thank you @net and @ecwpress for this Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.

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An opera singer who has “flamed out”, a suspect marriage, a brother-in-law with cancer and a remarkably interesting African Grey parrot that ties everything together made for a very enjoyable reading experience. Life can be so tricky – one day you are a sought-after Opera singer, the next day you are lucky to be teaching whistling. One day it is your fifth wedding anniversary the next day you are being assaulted by your brother-in-law’s Congo African Grey Parrot. You just never know what the next day is going to bring but Dawn is about to find out and I went along for the ride.

Nina Berkhout has given each of her characters a distinctive voice which range from aggravating to laugh out loud funny. Her descriptions of the narrator’s operatic disasters are so cringe worthy that you cannot help but pity poor Dawn Woodward in the most positive way. She has drawn equally strong characterizations of the major and minor characters and it just all works so well. Thank you NetGalley and ECW Press for a copy.

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