Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah



Published: February 2015
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 438
Copy Provided by: Borrowed
Summary: Goodreads

Summary:

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.
 

Review:

Wow. What a storyteller.  I had read a few reviews about this novel when it first came out so I put it on my TBR list.  I was looking for a gritty book.  Something with substance that was going to make me uncomfortable and touch my soul.   This was definitely it.

There are so many things that I loved about this book.  Heroes were not only found at the warfront.  They were also found at home as well.  And they weren't always men.  Women fought their own battles at home and had to endure a different kind of struggle without the men in their lives.  I love how we see a woman's perspective on the war.  

The main characters are Vianne and Isabelle.  Although Vianne seems to have less spunk than her younger sister, she definitely does not lack in determination and an ability to push through all of her hardships. In some ways she seems to internalize more than her sister.  She appears to be strong for her daughter but on the inside, as you read her thoughts and how she weighs her decisions, you can see how much she sacrifices for her family and for her country.  

Isabelle's sacrifices are more obvious.  She is brave and has many different faces, depending on who she needs to be.  Inside though she is just a scared little girl trying to find the love of her father and sister.  I don't want to spoil the novel by getting into details but it was so gripping and REAL to me.  I wanted to keep on reading until the very last page.  And trust me, as you read the ending, make sure you have a box of tissue because you will be crying.  Mrs. Hannah had the perfect ending to this story.    It made me weep, it made me smile and it made me want to research her other titles.

Beautifully written, Kristen Hannah captured the essence of this story.  I felt like I was living the story instead of stopping into the pages of a book.  It was the first book I have read by this author but it certainly won't be my last.

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