Thursday, November 4, 2021

Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


Goodreads Overview:

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye 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 a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets GaĆ«tan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II 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.

Jacque's Review:

I purchased this book at BEA shortly after it was released due to all of the hype. It was a Goodreads choice award winner back in 2015 and I had just started reading more historical fiction. I am not sure why it sat on my TBR shelf for 5+ years before I finally got around to it, but I am glad I finally did. This was an exceptional story that easily earned the 5 stars I rated it on Goodreads.

This book tells a very realistic and heart wrenching tale of what it was like for the women, children, and elders that were left behind in France while their husbands, fathers, and other loved ones went off to fight in the war. The Nazi's were increasingly more aggressive and violent as the war went on and resources such as food, fuel, and clothing became more and more scarce. The locals were left to starve while the soldiers lived relatively comfortably on the provisions they stole from the area residents.

There can't be a novel based upon WW2 without focusing on the Nazi's treatment of the Jews. One of Vianne's closest friends is Jewish, so we get to see first hand how the persecution escalated and what could happen to sympathizers. Vianne even takes it upon her self to start hiding Jewish children who were orphaned, which was an extremely dangerous thing to do, but it was her way of contributing to the war effort. 

In addition, we get to see how Isabelle helps allied soldiers escape German occupied France.  This was an EXTREMLY dangerous job physically in addition to what would happen if she was caught. 

It seems like there are so many historical fiction novels out now that are set during the WW2 time period. So far I have read this book and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Both of these books were fabulous and I would highly recommend them. I am planning on reading All The Light We Cannot See, since it is also an award winner, but I am probably going to wait until next year. I do not think I am ready for such heavy material again so soon. 

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