Charlotte Bingham comes from a literary family - her father sold a story to H. G. Wells when he was only seventeen - and Charlotte wrote her autobiography, CORONET AMONG THE WEEDS, at the age of nineteen. Since then, she has written comedy and drama series, films and plays for both England and America with her husband, the actor and playwright Terence Brady. Her published novels include the highly acclaimed bestsellers SUMMERTIME, THE SEASON, THE BLUE NOTE, THE LOVE KNOT, THE KISSING GARDEN, LOVE SONG, TO HEAR A NIGHTINGALE, THE BUSINESS, IN SUNSHINE OR IN SHADOW, STARDUST, NANNY, CHANGE OF HEART, DEBUTANTES, THE NIGHTINGALE SINGS, GRAND AFFAIR, THE CHESTNUT TREE, THE WIND OFF THE SEA, THE MOON AT MIDNIGHT, DAUGHTERS OF EDEN, THE HOUSE OF FLOWERS, THE MAGIC HOUR, FRIDAY'S GIRL, IN DISTANT FIELDS and THE WHITE MARRIAGE.
Young Cassie McCann suffers greatly at the hands of a sadistic grandmother during her childhood in a small New England town. Her miserable existence is ameliorated by her love of horses, a passion that leads Cassie to the male-dominated world of horse breeding, training, and racing in Ireland. The novel owes a debt to this solid, fascinating tale of abuse, for it is this excellent beginning that keeps the reader's interest when later elements of the story prove less credible or less tautly woven; two examples are Cassie's long-standing feud with a former schoolmate and a sadomasochistic encounter with a Frenchman. To Hear a Nightingale would certainly have been a better novel if this earlier quality could have been maintained. For larger public libraries.-- Lydia Burruel Johnson, Mesa P.L., Ariz.
The anguish inflicted on a child by a sadistic relative, and the excitement of high-stakes horse racing, are the main themes in this compelling novel by the British author of numerous TV plays (including Upstairs, Downstairs ). Raised by her diabolically cruel grandmother in New Hampshire during the 1940s, well-behaved orphan Cassie McGann endures beatings, insults and a generally miserable existence. A kindly neighbor's home provides occasional refuge, but the girl can evade Grandmother's malice only briefly; the spiteful old woman sends her to a snobbish private school in West Virginia, where spoiled, narcissistic Leonora Von Wagner becomes Cassie's new classmate and tormentor. Victimization fails to destroy Cassie's courage, however, and she finds fulfillment years later by marrying horse trainer Tyrone Rosse. At their sprawling farm in Ireland, the Rosses struggle to train winners in thoroughbred racing, while the indefatigable Leonora labors to thwart them. Effective ly conveying her characters' triumphs and heartbreaks, Bingham excels in her portrayal of Cassie's venomous grandmother and in stunning, climactic scenes at the Epsom Derby. (Apr.)