The Nightingale

Finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic love story and family drama set at the dawn of World War II.

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

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 France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

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 the compelling and mysterious 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. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to 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.”

For some reason, it took me a while to get into this book. It probably didn’t help that I started it the week of Thanksgiving, so I had a lot of activities to do and people to spend time with.  Once I got into it (and the activities stopped and my friends and family went away), though, I couldn’t put it down.  So be aware that once you start to love this book, you will resent everything that takes you away from it.

I did know that I would love this book from the very beginning, which is “In love we find out who we want to be.  In war we find out who we are.”  And I was right.

I love books that lead the reader to ask the question, how would I behave in an impossible situation?  Would I do the right thing, even if it literally led to me being hurt or killed? Or if it meant that the people I loved would be hurt or killed?

I hope the answer would be yes, but I’m not sure.

One thing I do know for sure, I would not be able to do what Isabelle does in this novel.  I think I could maybe be like Vianne, but honestly, the jury’s out on that one, too.

This is the kind of novel that will stick with you.  I hope that there will be a sequel at some point (we got one for Firefly Lane, so maybe!).

Highly recommended.


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