Reading Sara Review: The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

the nightingale

Rating: 4/5

Hardcover: 448 pages

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition (February 3, 2015)

Amazon Book Description:
FRANCE, 1939

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. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Reading Sara Review: To lead you into your weekend, I wanted to review a book that you must read in 2015 if you want to be a part of the many discussions that your book-loving friends will be having over whether The Nightingale compares to the brilliance of All The Light We Cannot See. I’m sorry, but I am not going to help answer that question, because they are both lovely books- and really only comparable because they both take place during World War II. They are each novels worth reading, and they will stay with you long after you have finished.

The Nightingale follows sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, through tumultuous times as they navigate their opposition to the Nazi invasion of France. Vianne’s husband is away, fighting for France, so she is left with her daughter in the countryside to fend for themselves. Vianne hopes that she can play by the rules, because she has her daughter to think of first and foremost, and a job to keep money coming in to feed them. As times become more difficult, and the war comes closer and closer to her family and community, she begins to make decisions that threaten her family, but can save other lives.

Meanwhile, Isabelle wants to be on the battlefield fighting back. She searches for purpose – and rather than fighting through fear like her sister, she has anger inside of her and reacts because of her boldness. I found Isabelle to be an easy hero to love. Her sheer bravery, will, and ability to risk everything over and over for people she has never met, and to do so to help end a war that she does not believe in, is absolutely inspiring and meaningful.

The story of love is prevalent throughout this book. Vianne  loves in a mature way – as a wife, a mother – and makes her decisions based on that love when it comes to Ari’s future, and later with her second child, and what he is told about how he came into the world. As an opposite, Isabelle is young, and loves with an in-the-moment passion that cannot be tamed. Neither way is right or wrong, but as a reader, being aware of these different expressions of love will help to forgive the characters their fears, flaws and decisions. It makes them easier to love.

Kristin Hannah told this story in a remarkable way, keeping a mystery (which I will not spoil for you) alive throughout the book and kept you wondering what happened, who survived and how did they end up where they are now? I was surprised by the end of the novel. When you finish reading, let me know if you were surprised too!

This book stayed with me long after I finished because of the storytelling, adventure and bravery that these two sisters faced.  There are many other extremely wonderful literary topics that I would love to discuss related to The Nightingale, but I do not want to spoil this book for you – read it, and when you have finished the book and your box of Kleenex, we can discuss!

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