The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Published on February 3, 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Genres Fiction, Historical Fiction, World War II
Buy on Amazon http://amzn.to/21heJU5
“The Nightingale” tells the story of two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne, during the German invasion of France, beginning in 1939. The sisters have previously not been very close, separated from each other both physically and emotionally since the death of their mother. Isabelle, at 18, is rebellious and has a very free spirit, continually running away from boarding schools and convents. When the war begins, Isabelle has once again left boarding school and returns to Paris to live with her estranged father. He instead sends her to live with her sister, but the violence and war she experiences along the way to Carriveau, along with the man, Gaetan, who she meets, will not only change her perspective on both the war and the world, but will alter the course of her life. Vianne, is several years older and married, with a daughter, living in their family’s house in Carriveau. When Vianne’s husband Antoine is forced to leave and head to the front to fit, Vianna is left alone with her daughter Sophia. Vianne is forced to house a German solider, putting her under constant supervision by the enemy and endangering both herself and her daughter. As the conditions in Carriveau begin to deteriorate, Vianne is forced to make one hard decision after another, while trying to help her family survive without food or money. This book follows both sisters through each of their struggles and triumphs; the decisions they make to try to help others and themselves. This book is both about love and war, family and survival.
When I began reading this book, I wasn’t really sure what the expect. The description on the book itself make me think it was leaning more towards a love story, than a war story. The Nightingale does contain love stories, however it is mainly focused on World War II and how it specifically impacted France. The characters in this book are well developed and by the time I finished reading it, I felt like I have really gotten to know both Isabelle and Vianne. I particularly enjoyed this book because it was given from the perspective of the women who were left behind. The women who had to house Nazi soldiers in their home and the women who wanted to help the war effort however they could. This is the first book I have read by the author, Kristin Hannah, but I can say I truly enjoyed it. The only criticism I have is that when Isabelle first meets Gaetan she falls for him instantly and says, “I love you” after knowing the man for 2 days. This is not realistic to me, even during a violent war. The rest of the book was amazing; the author did an excellent job painting a picture of war torn France and I could literally see Vianne walking that dirt road from her house into town. This is not just a story about war, it’s also a story about love, family and survival. It is a story about the things we do to protect the people we love.