Published by St. Martin's Press on 2/3/15
Genres: Fiction, Historical
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In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
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.
A heartbreaking and inspirational tale that tells of two sisters who withstand the brutality of war by not only surviving but by burning bright in the darkest hours.
Isabelle and Vianne are as opposite as two sisters can be. They both suffered abandonment as children, but where one becomes meek and tentative, the other is reckless and dares the world to ignore her. During the the Second World War when the mood begins to shift in France, Vianne keeps her head down, refusing to believe the grave warnings and predictions Isabelle foresees, unwilling to face a world she fears she won’t be strong enough to survive. Isabelle wants to fight, but Vianne wants to go unnoticed so she can ensure her child’s safety. As the war becomes more bleak and the people of France fight to survive an evil they never could’ve predicted, Vianne and Isabel are separated by their will to do what they think is best. But as each is placed in unimaginable situations, they learn to endure great sacrifices and must make difficult choices that reveal who they really are.
Overall, I thought this was a beautiful story. The type of story that I’ll remember for a while, because of the mark it left on my heart, but I didn’t love the writing. It wasn’t poetic or evocative enough for the striking situation. The point of view was a mixture of third person and first person, and it was noticeable in the beginning. It took a while for me to be completely entrenched in the plot, and that might’ve been because at times I felt like I was being told a story as opposed to seeing it and feeling it. Sometimes I wish it had more depth and weight. Fortunately, that only lasted until about the halfway mark, which was when I latched on.
I really started loving The Nightingale when I became invested in Vianne and Isabelle. I’ve studied history, I’ve seen the movies, and I’ve read the books, and although the setting is devastating in itself, it takes a bit more than just plotting a WW2 book to evoke the kind of emotional reaction to bring me to my knees. The second half of this book had more. So much more, and I think it more than made up for what I didn’t enjoy in the beginning. The characters revealed themselves. Also, the pace picked up as the plot became more intense. I fell deeply into The Nightingale as Isabelle and Vianne changed because of the war; sometimes bending because of the weight of fear and despair, other times holding strong as they willed themselves to endure. I loved seeing the sisters grow, like flowers in cracked cement, each taking on a bit of the other, as Isabelle became more cautious and started recognizing that life was far from black and white, and as Vianne became braver. It was truly inspirational.
The Nightingale is about endurance, resilience and hope. It’s also a love story. It shows how powerful love can be in a time filled with hate, insecurity, and hopelessness, because to love is to hope. Oh, how my heart broke for these two sisters, and all the beloved characters; the last 20% was a flood of tears. Still I was left inspired and humbled, with everything put in joyous perspective. Riveting, beautiful, unforgettable.
“Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.”