Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Disclaimer: This review is solely my honest opinion. I purchased this book on my own from iBooks and checked out the audiobook from my local library. Here is a link for you to buy the book from Amazon. The opinions in this review do not reflect the views of the author.
The beginning half of this review gives you a background of the main two characters and gives away information about how the story begins but not how it ends. Proceed with caution as there is information that is not in the synopsis of the book.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is an adult historical fiction novel that follows the life of Vianne Mauriac and her sister Isabelle during World War II in France. This compelling book showcases acts of kindness, bravery, struggle, and the real meaning of family. These two ladies go through great hardships and showcase their strength by pushing themselves to the limit to do what is right and protect their families. The novel begins in America with Vianne, now old, in her home cleaning out her attic with her son as they prepare to move her to an assisted living home. She goes into her attic and finds a trunk with old items, and this is where we were taken back to France in 1939. We are transported back in time to V’s home in Carriveau with her husband Antoin and daughter Sophie. This is during the time in which we find out that Antoin has been drafted to go to serve in the war. V has never lived on her own and must learn to adjust to life without her husband. During this time we learn intimate details about V’s character, learning about her past, her relationship with her father, the location of her mother, and her relationship with her sister Isabelle. Vianne’s character is developed well in this story, and it is so heart wrenching to hear about her struggles to find a place she feels loved. The story then takes us to the point of view of Isabelle, who is a spunky eighteen years old stuck in a boarding school. She is continually trying to find her place, being shuffled from one boarding school to another. She is then expelled from her last one before she is sent to Paris to live with her father, a bookstore owner. The war is nearing France, as many hope for the end, but that is something we will soon find out is not shortly. It is after Isabelle has moved in with her father that they find out in 1940 that the Germans were coming into Paris. Isabelle’s father tells her to pack up her belongings and get ready for a journey out of Paris and head to stay with her sister. Isabelle will make a treacherous trip to Carriveau, meeting many people on the way. Throughout the rest of the story, we learn so much more about the challenges faced by many women during the war. The hardships of those who were born Jewish during the Nazi invasion of France. The women of the war made a huge impact and were underestimated by the Germans significantly. I do not want to give any more information away, but I hope the beginning of half of this review provides some background of the characters.
This book was amazing. I know that it is historical fiction, but it is one of few that I can say I enjoyed. I have a BA in History, and the tale of the Nazi’s entering France is nothing like I have read in the past. Kristin Hannah does a fantastic job of capturing the attention of the reader and bringing awareness to the war efforts made by women. These two women are amazing. Isabelle does some very risky maneuvers in this story, risking her life and the lives of others to save many. She starts out as a rebellious character and continues with this mentality throughout the entire story. She stood up for what she believes in and continued to surprise me throughout the whole novel. I loved the development of both characters and the backstory provided. I could not have predicted that through so much tragedy there could be bonds formed. I could gush about this book for hours and talk about how it was outside my usual realm of Young Adult books, but I just wanted to tell you that you need to read this. It is so wonderfully written, captivating, emotional, and thrilling that you must go get this book.
I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in historical fiction books or anyone looking to read something outside of their comfort zone.