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. Hardcover, 448 pages
Published: February 3rd 2015 by St. Martin's Press
Five big stars: An epic World War II story that is a must read.
It is summer 1939 in France. Vianne, her husband Antoine and their young daughter Sophie are preparing for a picnic. It is a lovely day and the family is going to enjoy it despite the whispers of war swirling through their lives. After the outing, Antoine tells Vianne the terrible truth. He is being conscripted into the war and will be leaving next week. Vianne promises to be brave, but she had no idea how hard things will get in the next six years. Meanwhile, Isabelle, Vianne's younger sister, is yet again, expelled from another fine girl's school. Isabelle is a spit fire, and when war heads her way, she is determined to stand up and make a difference. Soon Isabelle finds herself acting as a spy and a liaison to help stranded airmen. She is willing to sacrifice everything to help others. Will these two women survive the horrors of WWII?
What I Loved:
- Wow! It has been awhile since a book got to me the way The Nightingale did. I have always loved reading books set during WWII, and this one was no exception. Even though this is a tough book to read at times, it was so worth the journey. Ms. Hannah doesn't hold back when it comes to all the horrors of war. I think this is a book that should be read by everyone, lest we should forget the atrocities of war.
- At the heart of this story are two strong sisters. Vianne is the older sister, and she at first, comes across as the one who keeps her head down and does what it takes to protect her daughter, but as the war rages on and food becomes scarce, and her Jewish friends are hauled away, Vianne decides to stand up and make a difference. I was immediately drawn to Vianne, and as the story wore on, I liked her more and more. I admired her courage and sheer determination to survive and protect her children. On the flip side, Isabelle was a bit harder to connect with. I love a good feisty heroine, but I struggled a bit with Isabelle's flippant behavior. It is one thing to rebel, but to do it openly in front of the Nazis was foolish. Thankfully, she grows wiser as time goes on, and by the end, I was in awe of all she endured and what she did. Truly, both of these women were remarkable, and I loved reading their stories.
- This book spans through WWII. Ms. Hannah covers all the hardships that the people in France faced, from food shortages, to Nazi occupation, and so forth. There are many tough scenes to read, especially when it comes to the concentration camps at the end. I appreciated, though, that Ms. Hannah was thorough in recounting the hideous and heinous acts that were committed during WWII. I think this is absolutely a book that should be read and discussed in a classroom setting.
- I liked that in the midst of the turmoil, that there was one good German solider who didn't lose sight of his humanity. It was a reminder that far too many young men were drawn into the conflict, and lost their lives, and many were noble despite the side they fought on. War is cruel.
- Even though this was a turbulent tale, at the heart of it was the importance of family, love and survival. I liked the strong focus on family, and it made me stop and appreciate my loved ones and my life. If you think you have it rough, read this, you won't be the same afterwards.
- The book opens in 1995 with an aging and dying woman who has hidden her past from her family. The book then goes back in time and tells the two sister's story. The reader isn't clear until the end as to the identity of the narrator. I was bit shocked at the reveal, but I loved it all the same.
- I cannot recommend this book enough. If you have any interest in this era, you must read this book. This is a beautiful, heart breaking and moving tale of survival against insurmountable odds. Just read it.
And The Not So Much:
- Even though I liked that this book started in the future and went back in time, I wasn't satisfied with the way it ended in the future. The ending felt so rushed, and I was left wanting so much more. That final scene is so powerful and emotional, and it blew right by. I wished that more time had been spent learning about what happened to each of the characters after the war. I wanted MORE!
- I wished that the scenes in the future had tied in better with the past. There aren't many scenes that take place in 1995, and I felt like there should have been more. I was left with so many questions.
- The subject matter is tough, and their are lots of violent and disturbing scenes. However, this is what happened in history, and we need to make sure we never forget. Still due to the content, I would recommend this to readers sixteen and up.
- I was curious after reading this if there was any real life inspiration for the Nightingale. I was hoping for an author's note that discussed her research and so froth, but there wasn't one in my Advanced Reader's Copy.
The Nightingale was a powerful, emotional and impactful read that left me with tears in my eyes. It is a book about love, loss and sacrifice. This is a book that will stick with me for years to come. I think this is a book that should be read and shared by everyone. I could go on and on about this book, but I won't just get it and read it!
"For the first time, her romantic novels made sense; she realized that the landscape of a woman's soul could change as quickly as a world at war."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.