After a loooooong break, Book of the Week is back! This week’s book, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is an emotional, historical fiction tale that begins with two sisters living in France when the Germans take over in 1939. Though ostensibly a WWII narrative, The Nightingale is ultimately a love story – love between friends, between mother and child and perhaps most of all, love between sisters.
Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
About the Book
The book begins with an elderly woman in America. The woman is reflecting on her life and the terrible events she lived through before immigrating to the United States. Clearly, you think, she will be our protagonist. However, guessing her identity becomes more difficult as the story opens and we meet TWO female protagonists- sisters Isabelle and Vianne.
The two sisters couldn’t be more different. Vianne, older, is married with a young daughter. Isabelle, younger, is rebellious and can’t seem to fit in anywhere. When the Germans invade France, Isabelle is desperate to resist whereas Vianne tries to deny the war’s existence until it literally comes knocking on her door. As their chapters unfold, the bravery and heroism of both woman becomes clear to the readers. Unfortunately, each sister is blind to the other’s sacrifices, leading to tragedy (and ultimately redemption!).
SL Buckley wrote, “the first casualty of war is innocence” and The Nightingale does not hold back on this theme. This book has been wildly popular since its publication in 2015, but I can’t say that I enjoyed it. Though I was stressed the entire time and found the ending to be well managed, it read like a YA WWII novel. The dialog is so simple and the pacing so fast, I doubt many changes will need to be made for the movie adaptation. Overall, this book is just okay.
About the History
Isabelle is closely based on Andrée De Jongh. A member of the Belgian Resistance in WWII, De Jongh organized the Comet Line to help allied soldiers escape the Nazi occupied country.
No spoilers here! If you’d like to read more about this amazing woman, check out this link: