Monday, March 30, 2015

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” 

This is a story that will stay with me for a long time to come. I think most people would agree, the best kind of books are those that evoke strong emotions and make you feel. Among my favorites are books that made me laugh, fall in love or ripped me to pieces and left me in tears. The Nightingale is one of the latter.

I’ve always had a fascination with World War II stories, and with any book taking place during this time period, you have to be prepared for a tragic story. Even though this book was beyond sad, I’m not exaggerating when I say I broke down, it was beautifully written and utterly captivating.

The Nightingale is the story of two sisters, from France, that find themselves in the midst of the Nazi invasion and the struggles of war. With an alternating POV from Vianne and Isabelle, two very different stories are told. Two different perspectives that made me ponder what I would have done if I had been in their situations. Would I fight against the horror or sit back and follow the rules?

Vianne, the oldest sister, lives in rural France with her husband and young daughter. When she gets the news that her husband has been called up to fight against the Germans, she’s terrified. She convinces herself the best thing to do, for her and her daughter’s survival, is to keep her head down and follow the rules. Surely, everything will go back to normal when Antoine returns.

Isabelle, the younger sister, has always felt alone and unloved. After her mother died, she was abandoned by her father and shipped off to a boarding school by Vianne and Antoine. She’s become a risk taker and rule breaker, which won’t allow her to sit back and do nothing while the Nazi’s take everything and destroy France.

In the midst of the all the devastation and loss, there were some bright spots within all the darkness. The biggest one being Gaetan. It destroyed me that Isabelle finally found someone that truly understood her and shared her passion. Someone that she desperately wanted to love. But the circumstances made it impossible for them to even try and make a go of it. Ever the optimist, I found myself hoping amongst everything that they would end up together.

“If we weren’t here - hiding in a safe house - if the world weren’t ripping itself apart, if this was just an ordinary world, would you want there to be an us, Gaetan?” 

Vianne and Isabelle's story destroyed me. I don’t think that I've ever found myself sobbing the way I did at the end of this book. It was both the best and worst ending imaginable. This by far, is the best book I've read this year.

5/5 Fangs

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