The Nightingale by: Kristin Hannah – A novel.
AGE GROUP: 16 and up// GENRE: Historical fiction// AMOUNT OF PAGES: 564// RATING: 5/5
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.
*Please note, I did not write this summary. Rather, it is from Goodreads. *
*Again, I’ve chosen to go without categories, as chaotic as it may look.*
I am in awe.
Kristin Hannah chose to portray a time of great devastation and horror through the eyes of two young women. And, might I add, she did so brilliantly. I found both sisters to be extremely capturing, both in their differing personalities and (somewhat) dissimilar values. They evoke such emotion, which is part of the reason I fell in love with this story. The feminism is STRONG! Isabelle and Vianne are valiant in their efforts to ensure others’ lives are saved if possible and–mainly regarding Isabelle–are determined to rescue France from the Nazis’ grasp. Alone, with the men off at war, the women in The Nightingale are shown in a fearless and entirely selfless light. These women help and support one another. (Misogyny, who?) Personally, I feel it is extremely important to recognize and shine light upon the role women played in the wars. Generally speaking, novels nowadays are extremely male-oriented and masculine, especially when discussing war. However, Kristin Hannah cleverly sought out to focus not only on the impact war had on women and their suffering throughout, but the way they, themselves, had to take over what were once male occupations and endure the Nazis invasion of their towns. Women and children were also permitted a limited amount of resources, and were provided ration cards. Vianne, along with her daughter, barely survive the rough winters, all the while keeping their distance from the Nazi billeted at their house.
Isabelle and Vianne’s hostile bond–even in times of war–is tested at various points throughout the story. I definitely admire the two of them very much; Isabelle, with her wild and far-fetched ideas and schemes, and Vianne, with her need to stay and care for her daughter in times of distress. Kristin Hannah crafted the two women extraordinarily well. She flawlessly balanced out their extreme dissimilarities and their mutual want for France to be rid of the German soldiers.
But enough about Isabelle and Vianne. The premise of this book isn’t so much plot twist oriented, but more so the telling of a historical, heart-wrenching story. The Nightingale is not nearly as plot-driven as most books, rather it is atmospheric and tragically real.
I found The Nightingale to be beautifully written. The execution and decision to casually fast forward to the present (when one of the sister’s is elderly and recalling the war) contributes an additional dimension to this riveting story.
I am deeply ashamed to say that I have not yet reread this gem of a novel. I do, however, advise you to read this book! I would just like to mention that for whatever reason I found it especially difficult to identify the reason I greatly enjoyed this novel. And that is strange considering I rarely give a 5/5 rating. Although I may not be gushing about this book in capitals and writing paragraphs upon paragraphs about literally nothing, I cannot emphasis how much I adore The Nightingale. If you have observed my ratings, you will know that I have not yet provided a book with five stars on my blog… until now. It is easier to locate the reason you hate a book, than locate the reason you love one (that’s basically what my mom said😂). So, that’s that.
To say The Nightingale was informative is an understatement; let me tell you, I learnt an incredible amount from this historical fiction novel, and in due time I will be revisiting the sorrowful yet empowering narrative that The Nightingale is.
I will leave you with this: Kristin Hannah certainly has a way with words.