The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Kindle, 449 pages
St. Martin’s Press
February 4, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Personal purchase from Amazon
In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
The Nightingale was a book that I had seen making the rounds of Facebook, blogs, USA Today and other and everyone was raving about the book, however, I just wasn’t all that interested to find out more. I figured it had to be too much hype, since everywhere I looked there it was. So I put it in the back of my mind for later. At the HNS Conference in June during a lunch with Amy, Erin, and Stephanie, I was told that I NEEDED to read this book and that I would NOT be disappointed. So, I figured with such high praise from ladies whose recommendations I take seriously, I would pick this one up for the read on my flight home.
And let me tell you, I am glad that I did! I couldn’t put it down and that became even more difficult as the story progressed and I became more engrossed in the plot and committed to these characters. There were twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and it was exciting and fast paced – never slow for a second!
The Nightingale is more of a story of the women’s side of the war or life on the home front – you are not on the front lines with the soldiers but there was still a lot of action that occurred in the cities and towns in occupied France. The French women were right in the thick of the war even without being on the battlefield, unlike counterparts in much of Germany, Britain, and the United States. Their wartime experience was very different as they dealt with destruction to their communities, housing German soldiers in their homes, roundups of partisans and Jews, deprivations, and much more. As the reader, you have access to a well-rounded home front experience because of the dual narrators.
The story told here will take you through all of your emotions, from love to anger, gut-wrenching heartbreak, death and sadness, passion and panic; it’s all there and palpable. There was one scene particularly, toward the end of the novel, where tears poured down my face (if you have read the book, it is a scene involving Daniel – that is in no way a spoiler for those who have not read it!). I appreciated the treatment of the German Nazis who were a large part of the book. They were not, as a whole, portrayed as pure evil. There were some who were evil for sure, but some other characters who were conflicted or in small ways compassionate to what was occurring in the war – which I think it likely a more accurate representation of those involved in the war.
One thing I noted in as I was reading, was how I felt the influence of author Tatiana de Rosnay in some of the scenes or in some elements of the story telling. I found out when reading the acknowledgment section that Kristin Hannah credits de Rosnay in helping her with elements of writing the novel. I definitely felt her presence in the section of the book about the Vel d’Hiv round up – which is an event prominently featured in her novel, Sarah’s Key.
I LOVED this story and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes WWII novels, novels on the home front, or a really good historical novel in general. Thank you ladies for suggesting I read it!!!
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Also by Kristin Hannah:
Comfort & Joy
Short Story in Grand Central
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