Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Nightingale by by Kristin Hannah

Title: The Nightingale
AuthorKristin Hannah 
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
Release Date:  February 3, 2015  

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her. 

As the war progresses, the sisters' relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

“Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.” 

The Nightingale is a realistic fiction novel depicting a time when France was occupied by Nazi Germany during WWII.  It tells the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle who lost their mom when they were too young. You could also say, that in a way, they have lost their father too who was a broken man after the Great War. When the war begins, Vianne is working as a teacher. She's married to Antoine and they have a daughter, Sophie. Isabelle, the younger sibling, is only eighteen. She's impetuous and adventurous. 

Before long, Antoine is sent to fight in the war, leaving Vianne and Sophie behind. Isabelle soon joins her sister, after her father sends her away from Paris.  Vianne and Isabelle have never been close. Their differences have always been noticeable. Vianne thinks of herself as weak and worries about their survival, while Isabelle speaks her mind and wants to join the fight. She wants to be part of the resistance. Their lives become more complicated when a German captain is sent to live with them. Vianne tries to keep her head down and be inconspicuous.  Isabelle, on the other hand, knows she can't stay with Vianne without putting her and Sophie at risk. When the chance to join the resistance comes, Isabelle makes up an excuse to go back to Paris. Here is where the story becomes impossible to put down. The sisters' tribulations, losses, heartbreak and the always present danger captivates the reader.

“A broken heart hurts as badly in wartime as in peace.”

I believe The Nightingale is a story that should be read by everyone. Kristin Hannah does a great job in detailing the horrors of the war and their consequences. At times, I felt like my insides were being ripped apart. I knew it couldn't end well for them. Or at least not for both. The end was bittersweet. I would recommend having some tissues around. I was not a sobbing mess like I was with her other novel, Firefly Lane, but it was close enough. 

I hope the movie does this book justice. I hope to add it to prior masterpieces like Shindler's List and Life is Beautiful. 

“Men tell stories,” I say. It is the truest, simplest answer to his question. “Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

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