Saturday, July 23, 2016

Review: The Nightingale

Wow! It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged. I needed a break and decided to take the summer ‘off’. I have been doing a lot of reading though and have lots of thoughts to share with you. I probably won’t be back to blogging regularly for another month or so, but I do hope to start posting some of my reviews periodically. Here is a review for the book I read for my July book club discussion.

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

Why did you choose this book? I enjoy Kristin Hannah and this was a book club pick
When did you read this book? July 2016
Who should read this book? readers of WWII era fiction
Source: library ebook
Here is a synopsis of The Nightingale from Goodreads

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.

My Review

I enjoy Kristin Hannah and read most of her books soon after they are released. As regular readers of my blog know, I also enjoy WWII era historical fiction. So when my book club made this our July selection I was very happy.

I have read a lot of WWII era fiction this year and in previous years, but I don’t think I’ve yet read one set in France. I learned a lot from reading this. I had not realized before how long France was occupied, and that the invasion took place early in the war. I also hadn’t realized just how bad conditions were for the French, with rationing and a shortage of food. Though I’d heard of the ‘French Resistance’ and perhaps saw a ‘glorified’ version on old 60s TV shows, I really didn’t know much about how it worked. Though this was a fictional account, it did give me an idea of the risks involved and the courage required to become part of this.

In addition to the history, this is a really good story. As the story opens, we meet an old woman, terminally ill and about to move into a retirement center, who insists upon taking an old trunk full of memories with her. She receives an invitation to a reunion in France and decides to go. She begins to reminisce and we go back to France and the story of sisters, often in conflict. One is young and single, and perhaps a bit naive. The other is older and married with a child, and much more cautious in her actions and the risks she undertakes. While most of the story is told from the point of view of these sisters during WWII, the old woman does break in with her memories at times, which serves to give us some perspective, and for me, to relieve some of the tension of being in the midst of a Nazi occupation.

This is probably not the very best WWII story I’ve read this year, but it is very good! If you enjoy Kristin Hannah’s work or WWII era fiction you will definitely want to pick this one up!

My Rating:  ★★★★    4 Stars
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1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this! It's great when your book club pick is such a great fit for you.