Synopsis: “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 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 girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets 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. 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 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.”
Review: Where do I even begin?
I picked this book up from the Barnes and Noble down the road from my apartment because I felt like I needed something different. I often read young adult contemporary novels, but lately I’ve been really trying to get out of that so I can broaden my horizons, if you will. That being said, I picked this book up because it’s a historical fiction novel, which I very rarely read.
This book all in all was amazing. It very beautifully portrayed the effects of war on families, focusing on one family in particular. The characters of the two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, are masterfully written. Each of their characters develop over the course of the novel, and as a reader you can really see how the war has made each of the sisters grow and change.
“Men tell stories. 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.”
This novel was heart wrenching. The soft and poignant writing style of Hannah made this book very easy to connect to on an emotional level. And since the book is so historically accurate, you could almost forget that the sisters in the book are fictional.
Since this book is a historical fiction novel, making sure things are accurately depicted is important, and I think Hannah did an amazing job. There were real families and sisters, just like Vianne and Isabelle, who lived through the hardships of war. That kind of life is extremely hard to capture, especially if you didn’t live it yourself, but Hannah really makes her characters and plot realistic and believable.
This book is going up on my shelf as one of my all-time favorites, which is why it’s getting a rate of five stars.