Listen to the Nightingale

by Rumer Godden

Paperback, 1994



Local notes

PB God




Puffin Books (1994), 198 pages


When she wins a scholarship to a famous ballet school, Lottie, an orphan reared by the costume mistress for a London ballet company, is torn between her lifelong dream and her love for a puppy.

Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

198 p.; 5.5 x 0.75 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Chatterbox
This is along the same lines of the better-known (and old fave of mine) "Thursday's Children" by Godden, and is apparently a sequel to another of her ballet-focused novels for younger readers that I only knew the title of, "A Candle for St. Jude." I can see why this isn't as well known as some of
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her best works, like "The Greengage Summer", but for readers with a passion for ballet, it's a lovely little tale. It's less subtle than "Thursday's Children", which follows a family over several years as two of its youngest members, a boy and a girl, move into the rarefied atmosphere of classical ballet training at "Queen's Chase", preparing for professional careers, but here, too, Lottie, the orphaned main character, is destined for a life in the ballet. But she also yearns for something more -- affection and warmth, which comes her way unexpectedly from a Cavalier King Charles spaniel whom she "acquires" accidentally, and whose role in her life turns out to be far, far more than simply that of providing affection to his young human. Because it is Prince, the spaniel, as much as her admission to Queen's Chase, that will open doors to new relationships and new ways of viewing the world for Lottie, and for her aunt, and those around her. This truly deserves the descriptor of "heartwarming" -- in a good way. For those who have read Godden's other novels, it's well worth seeking out, and if you have a young girl of 8 to 10 who is ballet crazy, try her with this and with "Thursday's Children." Unfortunately, the book aimed at slightly older readers, "Pippa Passes", doesn't really work; Godden returned to the ballet with her theme but in trying to make it a story for adults, stumbled a bit. It lacks the mature insights of "In This House of Brede" or "China Court", and the lead character is unbelievably naive relative to her age, while most of those around her are simply not credible characters. In this novel, the tone and characters, and the warmth surrounding the whole "good will triumph" plot, fit with the age of the characters and target readers. This was a delight to discover.
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½ (11 ratings; 3.5)
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