A Nightingale's Last Song

A WWII Romance

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Pub Date 13 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 02 Jan 2024

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“We gave everything we had to treat the wounded, no matter the danger, we remained committed until the last.”

On Lillian Elizabeth’s death, Lilibeth inherits her grandmother’s home, Seagulls Rest, but it comes with a condition. Lilibeth must reveal her grandmother’s secret.

November 1940: Lillian Elizabeth joins the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services in the fight against Hitler. She never meant to fall in love.

Major Joseph Lawrence is a doctor. Sergeant Alick McNavis a Scottish soldier. They are very different men. One will capture Lillian Elizabeth’s heart. The other her soul. One, a forbidden love. The other, permissible.

From the destruction of war, a Nightingale brings hope. Across the battlefields of France to the sandstorms of Egypt, a Nightingale’s voice is often the last sound a soldier will hear.

Now this Nightingale needs the help of her granddaughter, Lilibeth, so her soul can rest in peace.

“We gave everything we had to treat the wounded, no matter the danger, we remained committed until the last.”

On Lillian Elizabeth’s death, Lilibeth inherits her grandmother’s home, Seagulls Rest, but...

Advance Praise

Editor's Review: "A truly beautiful story, told very well, and I teared up again at the end. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must have been like for the nurses and the soldiers. To face such brutality and have to bear it with a calm demeanour, not letting it affect you publicly. I think you’ve captured the moment incredibly well."

Editor's Review: "A truly beautiful story, told very well, and I teared up again at the end. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must have been like for the nurses and the soldiers...

Available Editions

ISBN 9798891452350
PRICE £3.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 14 members

Featured Reviews

This was a captivating novel that connected the lives of two women separated by time but connected through a family secret.

Lillian Elizabeth was a nurse during World War II. The book was beautifully written, highlighting the sacrifices and challenges faced by women during that era.

The author captures the emotional turmoil of forbidden love and the resilience of the human spirit amidst the chaos of war.

The story swapped between the past and present, as Lilibeth, Lillian Elizabeth's granddaughter, embarked on a quest to uncover her grandmother's secret.

This brought mystery and intrigue to the book, wondering what secrets would be uncovered.

The other characters in the book were well written and relatable, each carrying their own burdens and secrets.

A nightingales last song was well written and an emotional novel that i loved from beginning to end.

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I thought this was a brilliant book and enjoyed it that much I couldn't put it down once I started it. Poor Lillian Elizabeth and all her nursing colleagues went through some heartbreak times as well as some fun times in their nursing of soldiers in WW2 .It was so moving what these poor nurses had to do. Thank you to Netgalley and BooksGoSocial

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"A Nightingale's Last Song" transcends time, carrying readers to the heart of WWII where love, sacrifice, and the echoes of a brave woman's past unveils a mesmerizing story. Kathleen Harryman's work is an embrace of historical romance, merging the strength of the human spirit amidst the turbulence of war.

The legacy passed down from Lillian Elizabeth to her granddaughter, Lilibeth, reveals a litany of emotions. Through Lillian's journey in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services, Harryman describes love blooming amidst the chaos of conflict. Major Joseph Lawrence and Sergeant Alick McNavis represent the contrasts in Lillian's heart, embodying the duality of love's resilience within the setting of wartime challenges.

"A Nightingale's Last Song" covers war-torn landscapes, from the battlefields of France to the sands of Egypt, encompassing the haunting melody of a Nightingale's song -- a symbol of hope and solace for soldiers facing the horrors of war.

Harryman honors the sacrifices made by those who served during WWII. As Lilibeth unravels her grandmother's story, I was drawn into her world of secrets, forbidden love, and the power of one's legacy.

In "A Nightingale's Last Song," the past whispers its timeless truths and celebrates the fortitude of the human spirit. Harryman has created an unforgettable journey for the reader, reminding us of the immeasurable depth of love and sacrifice, etched forever into history.

"A stirring tale of love and sacrifice in wartime Europe."

"An illustration of WWII's unspoken heroines."

"A sentimental journey through the echoes of a Nightingale's song."

"A compelling saga of love, secrets, and wartime resilience."

"Vividly painted scenes of love and loss in a world at war."

"A mesmerizing wartime account echoing the resilience of love."

"Intricately woven threads of romance, sacrifice, and redemption."

"Heartrending tales of love, hope, and sacrifice etched in history."

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Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book.

This novel chronicles the experiences of a group of British nurses, called nursing sisters and popularly known as Nightingales (after the legendary Florence), who enlist to serve in the TANS during the Second World War. The Territorial Army Nursing Services shipped out with the British army to provide on-site medical services at battle sites in Europe. Asia, and Africa. They worked under dangerous, exhausting and highly stressful conditions, as this novel shows very clearly. Threatened as they were by bombs, guns, and the horrors of a constant parade of seriously injured and dying men, unsanitary conditions, vermin, insects, hazardous local weather, and contagious diseases took heavy tolls among both nurses and soldiers.

The story is about five nurses who trained together in Leeds, serving in France and then along the Suez. It centres on Lillian Elizabeth, known as Lilly, who comes from a well-off London family. With the nurses is Dr (and Major) Joseph Lawrence, who is in charge. Lilly and Joe are in love, allowing them some solace in the nightmare days and nights of tending to the sick and dying, while fighting off malaria-carrying mosquitoes, huge rats, scorpions, heat and sandstorms.

Entering the Egyptian inferno, in the throes of malaria, is Sargeant Alick McNavis, a Scottish soldier (as is Joe) with whom Lilly immediately finds a soul connection. He is married, though unhappily. She loves Joe and doesn’t want to hurt him. Yet they find in each other a rare sense of ‘home’, of being known entirely for who they are, and of a deep bond that will sustain them until death, even though they will not be together in life. Before he has to return to the fighting, they vow to meet ´between the light and dark’ that awaits after life.

Harryman’s depiction of the nurses’ ordeal is very real and very affecting, as is her depiction of the loving bonds between the nurses, their compassion, and their courage. She also tenderly paints Lilly’s relationships with the two very different men, both of whom are besotted with her but whom she loves in very different ways. Readers can feel their internal turmoil and admire their honourable stoicism, especially in a world gone mad where death can arrive in the next instant.

Ultimately, a pregnant Lilly is sent home in the war’s last year, after a quick marriage to Joe. Against her mother’s wishes, she goes to work in a bombed out London hospital soon after the birth of her daughter Pearl, named for her dear friend and the first of the group to die in the desert. At the war’s end, she settles with Joe and Pearl in a cottage on the Scottish coast near Aberdeen.

The story is framed in the elderly Lilly’s dying bequest to her granddaughter Lilibeth, whom she raised. She leaves the young woman her wartime diary, a sealed letter, and a plea for her to find Alick, of whom she had never before heard mention. With the help of the diary, including letters from Lilly to her estranged and eccentric mother that were never mailed, as well as the only survivor of the group, the Scottish nurse Morag, she uncovers a number of family secrets to fulfil her beloved grandmother’s dying wish.

This novel brings to light the often overlooked but crucial contributions to the war effort of the enlisted nurses. Although not combatants, they truly fought in the world wars and deserve to have their place acknowledged as more than auxiliaries to the doctors and soldiers. Some of the medical detail is overdone, there are too many references to plaster-eating rats, and Morag, while endearing, seems a feisty Scottish stereotype at times, as do the horrible British matrons, including Lilly’s mother. But this is nonetheless a good story, and well told.

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Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publishers for allowing me to read a pre-release copy. Like another reviewer has mentioned I was unable to increase the font size which did make reading the book somewhat of a challenge but I wonder if this is perhaps just an issue with the pre-release copy?

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I initially found it hard with the long names but eventually got used to them. The storyline was strong and I enjoy books that use a diary or letters as a way of telling the storyline. Living in the North I managed but I do wonder if some readers may find the broad Scottish accent of Morag somewhat hard to read?! Having visited the battlefields of Northern France I found the chapters set there the most interesting with names I recognised.

I did find parts of the book unbelievable and there were some errors which I hope will be corrected before the general release.

I would recommend this book to others and will look for more by the author in the future.

Thank you!

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A really enjoyable book, I loved the book format, the beginning and the end being from one time period and then the middle from another time period, it flowed really well and was easy to understand.
The characters were believable and the author described them so well, I felt like they were friends, I was invested in the characters and felt like I was living in this story.
I would definitely recommend this book and I intend to seek out more books from this author.

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This was a great World War 2 romance novel, the characters felt like they were supposed to. The characters worked overall in this universe and time-period, I was engaged with the concept and thought it worked in the genre. The romance worked overall and glad I got to read this.

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A Nightingales Last Song is a beautiful tale of love, loss and finding your soulmate. It follows Lilly (Lillian Elizabeth to her Mother, Jane Anne) as she joins the Territorial Army Nurses during World War II. Her job takes her to France, Egypt, Italy, nursing not only the wounded, but men sick with malaria and dysentery. Lilly meets the women who become her life long friends, the men who steal her heart and loses many who are dear to her.

The description of the inner turmoil Lilly feels at loving two men at one felt very real. Lilly and Alick are 'home" to eachother,but Joe is her peace and stability. Like Lily, I have someone who is my soulmate. It's purely platonic, buti know that like Lilly and Alick our souls will meet in the place "between the light and the dark"

The story also captures the stress and horror of being a nurse during wartime. Looking after the sick and wounded, whilst also facing the sounds and sights of war and the tragedy of losses.

A Nightingales Last Song explores complicated family relationships, particularly between Lilly and her Mother.

Over-all I found it a really good read, and would recommend it.

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A story of the brave and strong nurses during WWII England. The stories travel between a grandmother with a secret and her granddaughter trying to find out what it means. Beautifully written.

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The Territorial Army Nursing Service (TANS) was formed in 1920, when the Territorial Force was renamed the Territorial Army. It existed until 1949, when both regular and reserve nurses joined the QARANC. Territorial Army nurses served alongside QAIMNS nurses internationally and in all campaigns during WWII.QA WWII Nursing, and nurses were then known as the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). Each QA had an officer status with equivalent rank but no actual commission status. This changed in 1941 when emergency commissions and rank structure were formulated to bring the QAs into line with the rest of the British Army. For the first time QAs wore rank badges and were able to be promoted and receive financial benefits along with ranks from Lieutenant through to Brigadier.QAIMNS members served in many countries ranging from Africa, Burma, China, Egypt, France, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Malaya, Malta, Normandy, Palestine and Singapore.At the same time, civvy hospitals increased their recruitment of student nurses to eventually fill vacant staff nurse posts.At the start of WWII members of the QAIMNS along with VAD nurses were mobilised to France as part of the BEF. There was little to do because French troops were holding back the German army at the Maginot line. QAs kept themselves busy by treating the French local civilians and holding clinics.Because there was little action in the first year the time was called The Phoney War or the Bore War.As the troops of Hitler invaded Holland, Belgium and then France in May 1940 the British troops had to withdraw and retreat fast, and rather than leave valuable medical equipment for the enemy, the QAs destroyed the equipment, and the sappers destroyed the buildings.In Singapore many QAs were captured by Japanese forces after the fall of Singapore in 1942.British Military Hospitals varied in size,purpose and permanence in caring for service personnel.There were also Base Hospitals,known as Stationary and General Hospitals.The Base Hospital was part of the casualty evacuation chain, further back from the front line than the Casualty Clearing Stations.

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