Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Nightingale


Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII)
Type: Hardcover
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 448
Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: February 2015
First Line: "If I have learned anything in this long life of mine it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are."

Book Description from GoodReads:  In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

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.


Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  As many of my followers know I'm an avid reader of WWII fiction so it takes a great book to grab my attention with its story, characters and emotion.  It was such a horrible time in history that brought out the worst in people.  But it also showed that even through the devastation people demonstrated great strength, pride, love and honour.

Let me start by saying that I'm not a mushy person.  It is a rare book that has been able to squeeze a tear or two out of me much less get me to have a lump the size of Texas in my throat.  I have a heart (trust me) but it takes some awesome writing to make me feel deeply about the characters and pull the emotion out of me.  I can now add The Nightingale to the small list of books that 'made me quietly sob like a baby'.  But it wasn't all mushiness, in fact the majority of this book focused on Vianne and Isabelle as they struggle in their own ways to deal with the effects of the Nazi occupation of their small town and country in general.

I've read books by Kristen Hannah many, many years ago and had a vague memory of enjoying her style of writing.  This book took on a whole different tone than I was expecting - and I really enjoyed it.  It's not a fast moving book per se (it actually took me quite a bit to get into it) but once you get involved in the lives of these two sisters and their different experiences, feelings and reactions of living through Nazi occupied France it was hard to stop reading.  Plus, getting a closer look at the French Resistance during this time was definitely eye opening and it was amazing to see the lengths that some of the French went to in order to thwart Hitler's plans.

While this book is set during the tumultuous and horrific backdrop of WWII, at its core it is a book about family relationships, finding personal strength and unlikely heroes as well as the roles women played in the French resistance to the Nazi invasion.  This is well-written, thought provoking and emotional read. 

Recommended.

My Rating: 4 stars (the ending I'd give 4.5 stars)

Favourite QuoteIf I have learned anything in this long life of mine it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.

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