Lilian Nattel, the acclaimed author of The River Midnight, masterfully brings to life a vanished world--the lanes boiling with the steam from kettles of laundry, the smokestacks belching coal dust, the chatter of tailors, piemen, and thieves. This is where Nehama arrives with her dreams of independence, not realizing the dangers that a girl on her own must face. Tricked into prostitution, she escapes into the alleys of the East End, where bustling market stalls and penny seats at the theater are just a second away from the criminal warrens. In the Jewish ghetto Nehama makes a new life, remembering the lessons of the street to help another runaway, Emilia, pregnant and unwed. But Emilia refuses to live a hard life and, relinquishing her baby to Nehama, she re-creates herself in the chic streets of the West End. With stunningly vivid prose Nattel intertwines the stories of these two women, writing of the chaos of this rich city life, and beautifully rendering the courage of mothers and sisters navigating dangerous realms.
LILIAN NATTEL was born in Montreal and now lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters. She is the author of The River Midnight, The Singing Fire, and Web of Angels.
“By turns earthy and lyrical, The Singing Fire authoritatively conjures up the fog- and smoke-filled breath of London, and at the same time it’s steeped in an atmosphere of mystery, reaching for soaring, transcendental truths. Nattel’s greatest strength. . .is as an old-fashioned storyteller. . . I must confess, I wept unabashedly more than once as I raced through this fine novel.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Think Isaac Bashevis Singer, Charles Dickens and Gabriel García Márquez and you will have some idea of the scope of literary influences behind Lilian Nattel’s new novel.”
—Quill & Quire
"Marvelous...vibrant....Her prose is just as finely balanced, rich in humor that’s never simply for laughs ... and filled with passages of heartbreaking beauty that acknowledge the permanent scars left by tragedy but affirm the healing powers of love and self-knowledge. Beautifully-written, strongly imagined and deeply felt."
“The Singing Fire is sure to be a big hit. Nattel has so many strengths as a writer that it’s tempting just to list them: a historian’s eye for detail and language, a storyteller’s mastery of rhythm and suspense, a modern woman’s sympathetic understanding for those who’ve preceded her.”
“…At times heartbreaking without being tragic, and often heart filling without being sentimental. Nattel’s novel is a celebration of the lives of women and the generations of mothers who support each other through family and friendship. The Singing Fire ushers in the new year with a resounding message of love and hope.”
—The Edmonton Journal
“Lilian Nattel writes vivid prose. Her description of the cold, mucky streets of London, dimly lit by gaslight, where people throw pots of slop and other unmentionable refuse on to the rooftops and into the streets, is captivating in its realism.”
—The Vancouver Sun
“Once again, Nattel’s descriptive powers shine, and her evocation of place is Dickensian.”
“…here’s betting that most readers will end up loving headstrong, passionate Nehama almost as a sister, and recognizing this magical book as one of the best of the new year.”
—The Gazette (Montreal)
Praise for The River Midnight:
“Nattel has the gift not only of telling the truth about women’s lives but the rarer gift of creating a world the reader can live inside. . . . Radiant and magical.”
“Richly imagined, sensuous in its details, spiced with energetic dialogue, The River Midnight offers pleasures on every page.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Like Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County and García Márquez’s Macondo, Nattel’s imagined backwater is shot through with mythic significance [and] the brilliantly patterned minutiae of daily life.”