Monday, June 15, 2015

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't believe I haven't sent out this review yet! Shame. Shame.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah just moved up into one of my all-time favorite novels. The characters are so rich in depth and detail that I felt like we were close personal friends. I cannot stop thinking about this book. It pervades my thoughts daily.

This novel is different than Hannah's other books. She, in my opinion, has found a new voice - her voice it seems. The intricate way she weaves this historical fiction calls to the reader uniquely; with more gravity than her previous books. She captures a quality rarely seen in writing. I feel like I know Vianne and Isabelle - they are part of me.

From the book synopsis, this quote pulls in the interest immediately: "In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are."

Set in the picturesque village of Carriveau, France (1939) Vianne Mauriac says a tearful goodbye to her husband, Antoine, because he's been called to the Front to fight for France in the dangerous battle of WWII. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France, but she is wrong. They take Vichy, France (I wrote another review about a non-fiction book about Nazi's invasion of France here: in swarms of soldiers and caravans and trucks and planes that bomb the innocent and destroy their homes.

When a German captain decides to billet at Vianne's home during Antoine's absence, she and her daughter must accept this unfortunate consequence of war and invasion. She has nothing and is willing to do anything to keep her daughter safe and alive.

However, Vianne's sister Isabelle is her opposite. She is not willing to sit by and let German soldiers take all they have. While thousands of Parisians march to their deaths and stand in line for worthless rations, she is willing to also do anything to save Paris, yet her approach is different. During the dangers of the war she meets Gaetan and he shares her passion to save France. Through lessons of love and loss, Isabelle joins the Resistance and pushes forward in her attempt to save not only herself, but others as well. She is selfless in her goals and never-ending in her pursuit.

This books discusses the women's war of WWII. So much is written about this time period in history, but this is the first I've seen from this standpoint that really captures the sacrifices not made directly on the front lines. It is a story of courage, or grace, of control, of limits and how far one is willing to go for the limit to not exist.

I do not know how to recommend this novel as it exceeds a two-thumbs up, a must-read, or any other accolades I can give it. This novel changed me - and I'm glad for it.

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