author: Kristin Hannah
genre: adult fiction, historical fiction
publish: February 3, 2015 by St. Martin's Press
purchase: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
rating: 5 / 5 stars
The bestselling novel that has captured readers across the globe -- a story of two sisters, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France.
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye 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 places 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, money, nor hope, as danger escalates all around them, Vianne is forced to make on 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 match into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaëtan, 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 everything she has to save her fellow countrymen -- even her own life.
a MUST READ WWII novel.
I've been hoping to read this book in like FOREVER because: (1) it's historical fiction (and you know my goal: read all those historical fiction!!
In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. -p1
Set in WWII France, 1939-1945, The Nightingale is told in two perspectives: (1) Vianne, a woman, teacher, and mother to Sophie, who's forced to let a German Captain stay in her house; and (2) Isabelle, a rebellious young adult who's searching for purpose, making reckless decisions, and ended up joining the Resistance. Both of which try to survive the war that tore apart families and friends. Both of which are strong women who strongly fight for something: one for her child, and the other for the freedom. Both of which are in dangerous positions and are ready to face the ruthlessness of the harsh time they are forced to live in.
In another point, The Nightingale features a point of view set in 1995, Oregon. The narrator is not exactly confirmed but is surely one of the two sisters. That kept me wondering. Midway, it was made clear who's in the 1995 POV, however, it was not clear if both survive or if the other died. And the end just made me cry ugly tears in public (reading this in public is obviously NOT advisable). The ending chapters (during the last year of the war) was the most heartbreaking of them all!
And this wasn't the end. She had to remember that. Each day she lived there was a chance for salvation. She couldn't give up. She could never give up. -p460
Honestly, I find books I extremely love too difficult to talk about. I know that my words are not really good and I can never really justify the beauty of this novel. So I hope that you trust my words on this and read this strongly written book on WWII.
Even though The Nightingale covered the entire German Nazi occupation on France in the span of 531 pages, mass market paperback, I feel that it was still written so well -- I didn't find it lacking on anything at all. Admittedly though, I was not immediately sold when I read the first couple of chapters. It was when the Nazi's finally entered France that glued me into this book.
The pacing was perfect. The alternating POV gives an insight of what happened to France when the German Nazi came. It is, of course, something we're all aware of -- slowly taking of freedom and ending to the hauling and killing of Jews, French citizens being stripped away of their freedom (German Nazis staying in their homes and doing as they please), and innocent people dying in just a blink with no actual/strong reasons. I know this yet I want to read it. I want to read more of it even though my friends look at me curiously and worryingly because of how horrified and sad and worried I look whenever I read this.
"Men tell stories," I say. [...] "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. -p528
Aside from things I already know about the war, The Nightingale opened my mind to new things such as the billeting of German Nazis in French owned houses (especially luxurious looking homes). This novel shows the little and big things women did during the war while men fight the war front and get sent to concentration camps. This novel clearly shows that men and women played important roles in the war.
If there's anything I can clearly say about this novel is that it made me cry ugly tears. Reading this and trying to stop my tears from falling is bloodydamn difficult, I tell you. It's not just for the horrifying things done but also for how much I grew attached to the characters and how much they all mean to me -- from the Vianne to Isabelle to her their father to Captain Beck (who graciously gave an account of a German who's also trapped in this horrific war and is forced to follow orders).
OVERALL, The Nightingale is a highly recommended historical novel that gives powerful insights on German-Nazi occupied France and the role of women during World War II. It's heartbreaking, as many WWII novels are, and has characters that will surely move and leave a mark long after you read the last page.