I knew very little about Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale prior to picking it up. I had heard its name mentioned a few times, and I knew it was a telling of the women's war, but other than that I had no clue what to expect.
And I can tell you now, it far exceeded any expectations I did have. I devoured this book in just a few sittings, reading late into the night, getting up early to cram in a few more pages and fitting in a bit more during my lunch break.
Beautifully written, with realistic twists throughout and characters that are so wholely developed that I found myself thinking about them long after I had put the book down; it's easy to see how it was voted as the New York Times number one bestselling novel.
It may be a historical fiction novel but it is equally a tale of love and loss, hope and despair, The Nightingale will have you rooting for its characters as well as weeping for them from start to finish.
The Nightingale: Synopsis
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 is tested. 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.
“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
Focusing on the unsung heroes of the war, Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale is set in occupied France and focuses on the French Resistance but it is perhaps equally as well described as a story packed with both action and emotion.
Hannah shines a light on a side of history that is rarely spoken of, the women's version of World War Two, and provides an insight into the bravery of the people who had to navigate a new way of life in occupied France.
Heartbreakingly beautiful, the story shows that bravery does not take on one shape, as the two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne each take on drastically different roles that they never thought they would have to in a bid to survive the way.
Written with such conviction, you'll feel as though you're right there with the characters as they learn to live with loss and hold onto hope, in the darkest of times.
Emotional. Action-packed. Inspiring. If you pick up just one book this year, make it this one.
"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."
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