The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah Book Review

Genre(s): Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Nightingale made me feel sick, cry at work, hug my children closer, and still left me with awe and a ray of hope. Books about the Holocaust are popular, they easily capture your emotions by just showing the horror of those times without much effort. However, The Nightingale focuses on a unique narrative and was written extraordinarily well.

I’m stealing this summary straight from Goodreads because I’m low-key lazy.

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.

This book put a spot light on the “unseen” horrors of WWII. The women who were left behind, the children who were forced to grow up far too quickly, the way the Nazi took everything from everyone, and those who were fighting, just not with guns on the front line. It was a different narrative than your usual historical fiction and incredible refreshing.

The characters in this book we’re my favorite part. We see such great development throughout the story. It starts with Isabelle as selfish, immature girl and Vianne was weak and passive. However, as the book progress, we see both of them grow and change as they face their new, challenging world.

Beyond just the main characters, we also see into the mind of many others, showing that not all bad guys are as bad as they seem, and vice versa, not all good guys are great either.

Some may find this book to be slow, but each line was well researched and full of rich descriptions. Without it, I don’t think the level of deepness this story has would have been reached.

Kristin Hannah wrote an amazing tale that I’d recommend to anyone. Don’t pass the opportunity to read The Nightingale. You won’t regret it.

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