The Nightingale Review

Hello readers! I have spent the past month reading The Nightingale for a book club that my mom started. It was really out of my comfort zone since I am not used to historical fiction but I really enjoyed it as a onetime read!

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
FRANCE, 1939

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. – summary

As I said, I really enjoyed The Nightingale. It had strong characters that had truly interesting personalities. The contrast of the two sisters’ personalities adds to the story as it switches POV from Vianne to Isabelle giving the reader a different viewpoint on situations as they happen. Both of these girls (and all of the characters) are products of their environment. Isabelle was abandoned by the people who were supposed to love her leaving her to not truly know real love. This fuels the drastic difference in personality between her and Vianne who, unlike her sister, is more cautious and quicker to think things through.

The plot was very interesting, showing a different POV in a time period that can be seen as done already. Instead of focusing on the lives of the men during the war, Hannah chose to focus on the woman and the silent but important role that they played in the war. This can give readers a new viewpoint into this dark time period in history.

I only had two real issues with The Nightingale, the main one being that I’m not a fan of the flash forwards throughout the novel. If you don’t know, the novel is told in a stream of consciousness/ flash back from a future character and it continues to flash forward to this character throughout the story. My issue with this was that it took me out of the story, leaving those chapters to be stopping points for me. I was also not a big fan of some of the author’s choices at the very end. I felt that some choices were made simply for emotional impact but did not impact the characters, or plot much— it felt unnecessary.

Overall, despite not being a big fan of historical fiction, I tried to expand my horizons and really enjoyed The Nightingale as a onetime read! I recommend it for fans of historical fiction, or anyone who wants a strong character based novel!

Have you read The Nightingale? What did you think of it? Do you agree with the things mentioned above?

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