Award-winning short story writer Megan Mayhew Bergman’s debut novel—a beautiful and engrossing tale of a southern family, set outside of Charleston in the 1920s and 1930s, with an unforgettable young heroine.
Win Spangler and Helena Glass met on the dunes at a beach resort in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1919. Helena, a skilled shooter and former beauty queen, was born and raised on a moss-draped former rice plantation, and her family is devoted to preserving their crumbling heritage. Win is a medical school dropout with a sizeable inheritance, eager to make his mark on southern culture. When Helena seduces Win, their lives become inextricably bound.
Their daughter Sally Anne is born at Glass Manor and her father nicknames her Skip, because he hopes any misfortune will pass her by. But her mother is unstable and her father is unsatisfied, and Skip grows up lonely and isolated. She is drawn to the families down the road on Nightingale Lane, where the field workers and servants live, and develops a unique friendship with a boy named Ase. When Skip is thirteen years old her father invites a disquieting doctor to set up a private laboratory on the property, and his pioneering surgical experiments lead to disastrous consequences, forcing Skip to question everything she knows about family, love, and legacy.
Author Megan Mayhew Bergman has been hailed “a top-notch emerging writer” (The Boston Globe) and a writer of “intense, richly imagined tales” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR), and brings her formidable storytelling talents to bear in Nightingale Lane, with its rich cast of characters and lush, evocative prose. Atmospheric and steeped in southern lore, Nightingale Lane explores the power of wronged women, the cost of inheritance, and the reconciliation of past and present.
Megan Mayhew Bergman is the author of Almost Famous Women, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, and Nightingale Lane. She is a regular columnist for The Guardian, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Best American Short Stories, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and Oxford American, among other publications. She was a fellow at the American Library in Paris and now directs Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. She lives in Vermont.