BOOK REVIEW: The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

the_nightingaleBook: The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Nightingale tells a story of sisterhood and resilience, as it introduces us to Vianne and Isabelle–two sisters who grew apart as children and felt that they were opposing forces as adults.  Vianne is married and a mother when, against all expectation or prediction, the Nazis take over France in 1939.  Her husband, Antoine, is off to the front to fight for France, and just as quickly sent to a prisoners camp as the French government rolls belly-up under the pressure of the Germans.  She is determined to keep her family safe, as each escalating trial of war presents itself.  Through German requisitions of her home, food shortages, and no money to speak of, Vianne makes the sacrifices necessary to keep her children alive.  

Isabelle, in many ways, is just a child when war begins.  Eighteen, idealistic, and in love with a man who believes that the French can organize a resistance that will at least slow the German occupation.  When he leaves her, Isabelle throws herself into the work of the Resistance with unparalleled passion and finds herself a savior to many.  

As the war progresses, the paths of the sisters become fraught with increasing peril, but they continue on–strong and determined–because that is what you do for the people you love.  

This is without a doubt the best book I’ve read in a long while.  It’s a wonderful thing to fall headfirst into a story.  It’s rare to feel such an attachment to the characters that their trials and struggles hit you in your gut. It sounds kind of random, but this story really sold me on the fact that some fiction really is meant for a more mature audience.  It’s not the content–though parts were certainly grueling, and difficult to read.  That’s war, and this book is centered around the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War.  It was really the emotion that got to me.  If I had read this book while I was in high school, I would not have felt the full impact of the choices the parents within this story had to make, time and time again.  It wouldn’t have twisted my stomach.  It probably wouldn’t have made me cry.  I would have liked it for the history.  I would have thought it was an exciting war story.  The adventures of Isabelle would have thrilled me, and I most likely would have dreamed of doing the same thing, but there is no way I would have felt the emotional impact, and when it comes down to it, that is half the story.  The sacrifices parents are capable of, just for their children.

Ugh.  It’s still making me feel a little teary.

So yeah, this book made me cry.  But it was totally worth it.  If you like historical fiction at all, you absolutely MUST read this book.  Really though, if you like any kind of drama, exciting story, or emotional read, you should give this a try.  I think to some extent, we must connect to any character in any book we read–why else would we bother to read a book to the end?  Still, The Nightingale gives an unparalleled reader experience.  The characters are just so believable.  Their ideas, their choices… it all seems so natural.  It’s really easy to imagine that it’s a true story.

Read it.  Read it, read it, read it.  It’s Saturday!  You need a good book to read!  Read it!

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars