The Nightingale

The Nightingale

In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.FRANCE, 1939In 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...

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Title:The Nightingale
Author:Kristin Hannah
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Edition Language:English

The Nightingale Reviews

  • Lori

    With tears still running down my cheeks I'm writing this review. I've started this review several times and I don't think I'll be able to adequately put into words the power in which this novel has moved me. Truely a remarkable story that I, literally, beg everyone who loves historical fiction to read. I will be gushing about this novel for some time to come.

  • Aestas Book Blog

    has a 4.8/5 rating average on Amazon (which is HUGE!!) and what that basically means is that practically everyone who is reading it is loving it. And I'm now adding my own 5 STAR rating to that list because this book owned my heart. The ending was so

    has a 4.8/5 rating average on Amazon (which is HUGE!!) and what that basically means is that practically everyone who is reading it is loving it. And I'm now adding my own 5 STAR rating to that list because this book owned my heart. The ending was so powerful that I read the last 10 pages with tears pouring down my face and days after finishing my read, I still can't stop thinking about it.

    I will say upfront though that this book was a little different than the kinds I usually read and review though because it wasn't solely focused on a love story, even though there were two love stories within it.

    While men endure great hardship during war, it affects everyone. This is the often-unspoken story of women's war. Mothers, daughter, sisters, wives... this is the story of their strength, endurance, sacrifice, and courage during the darkest part of their lives. So many of them didn't just wait for their men to return but took many grave risks to save as many other lives as they could.

    We begin the story in 1995 with an old woman towards the end of her life, moving out of her house into a retirement home. Without much of a future ahead of her, she begins to look backward at her past, taking us with her through her life story beginning in France 1939, right before the war changed her peaceful life.

    The flash back segments of the book are largely focused on two sisters: the older Vianne, the rule follower, and the younger Isabelle, the rebel. Vianne's idealic life in the countryside with her husband, Antoine, who she'd been in love with since she was fourteen and their young daughter, Sophie, was changed when he was to be mobilized and called to duty to fight in WW2. The postman became a soldier overnight, and the man she loved was sent to the front, leaving her behind not knowing what the future would bring.

    Months into her husband's deployment, with no word still from him and with their already-dire situation getting worse and worse after France surrendered to Germany, Vianne and Sophie's lives are once again changed when a young German officer requisitions their home, making it his own. Faced with one hardship after another, they both do everything they can to survive, and pray for Antoine's safe return.

    Miles away, Vianne's younger sister Isabelle attends a sort of finishing school for French woman and hates every single moment of it. Her outspoken and rebellious nature unwilling to bow to their rules. When the war comes though, she makes her way through the wilderness to Paris.

    Refusing to accept France's surrender, and despite her sister's pleading to stay quiet and safe, she follows her heart and meets a young man named Gaetan. She falls in love with him and his belief that the French can fight the Nazis from within France. But when things take an unexpected turn, she decides to take matters into her own hands, regardless of what anyone tells her she can't do, and joins an underground group, The Resistance, that risks their lives to make a difference and help save as many others as they can.

    You know that feeling when a book is so absorbing that you just want to cancel all your plans so you can keep reading it... and even when you can't read it, you're thinking about it? Yeah, that was me with this book! Once I started reading, I could barely put it down until I'd reached the last page.

    As the past and present storylines began to entwine, these shivers ran down me as certain reveals were brought into the light. Real shivers. Tears would spring to my eyes with even the simplest of things -- but ones that had such a hugely powerful impact on the story. A letter from Paris. BOOM. Tears.

    This book is honest in portraying the events that occurred to these characters, but not overly graphic. It doesn't need to be. The things that happen, and they way they are told are so powerful that you FEEL them. There are some scenes though that are hard to read because they are quite painful and I'll warn that there may be triggers for some people, but then again, this is a story that takes place during a brutal war. There's everything you can expect from such a story -- brutal firefights, prison camps, beatings, near starvation, sacrifice... but there is also hope, resilience, survival. As I neared the end of the book, during the last few pages, tears began to pour down my face. It was achingly beautiful.

    Many of you will be wondering if there is a happy ending. I don't want to give things away, but I want you to know that I was completely okay with this ending. It's naturally not all sunshine and roses, how can it be with such a setting? But my gut feeling tells me that even hard-core romance fans will still love this book. I was moved to tears several times, but in many ways my heart was healed.

    Kristin Hannah's writing is some of the best I've ever read. It's extraordinarily vivid and evocative. This was my first book by her and I felt like I was right there with these characters -- not only were their emotions so strongly conveyed, but the picture of their surroundings came to life before my eyes.

    I have searched for years without luck for a book that could even come close to comparing to my all-time favorite book,

    (

    ). This book however, is the closest I’ve ever come to one that captured a similar feeling. The story is vastly different — while

    completely revolved around one love story that was the driving force behind the entire trilogy,

    was focused on two sisters and their experiences surviving the war -- while the sisters each had their own love stories, it was their personal journeys that this book was focused on. I also found TBH to generally be more emotional than TN. So, it’s not of course a direct parallel. But I will say that if you’re a fan of TBH and if, like me, you’ve been searching for years for a similar book, then you absolutely must read this.

    This was honestly one of the most powerful stories I've read. It will stay in my heart, I know this for a fact. More than anything, what I take away from it is gratitude... gratitude for every single freedom and luxury that I know so many of us naturally take for granted. They are precious. This book reminded me of that.

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    For those of you who want to know who lives and who dies...

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  • Regan

    Beautiful.

  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    I've been told by so many people that I need to read this book. It gets so much hype that I thought there was absolutely NO way it would live up to it. But it did more than that. It surpassed it.

    My favourite books is a pretty exclusive list and it usually takes me a while to decide whether a book fits that list or not but this was an instant favourite. I absolutely adored it. Even just thinking about it now I am fighting back tears because this was such a beautiful and vivid story. I felt like

    I've been told by so many people that I need to read this book. It gets so much hype that I thought there was absolutely NO way it would live up to it. But it did more than that. It surpassed it.

    My favourite books is a pretty exclusive list and it usually takes me a while to decide whether a book fits that list or not but this was an instant favourite. I absolutely adored it. Even just thinking about it now I am fighting back tears because this was such a beautiful and vivid story. I felt like I was with these characters through all of their terrible experiences and I just wanted to shelter them from it all. The women in particular, the sisters, were absolutely inspirational. They showed incredible strength in this terrible time and I loved seeing how women contributed to the war. This was just a story that really resonated with me. It has a special place in my heart for it was truly, beautiful.

    If you like WWII historical fiction, or even if you don't, I encourage you to try this book out. I know I'm going to be encouraging basically everyone I know to read it.

  • Emily May

    What, indeed.

    I really didn't know what to expect going into

    . Given the quote about love and war in the blurb, I kind of thought it might be an historical romance set during the Second World War - like the world really needs another

    - but it turned out to be so much more than that.

    There are love stories in

    ,

    What, indeed.

    I really didn't know what to expect going into

    . Given the quote about love and war in the blurb, I kind of thought it might be an historical romance set during the Second World War - like the world really needs another

    - but it turned out to be so much more than that.

    There are love stories in

    , but that's not really what the book is about. It's about women in wartime, and it's

    . We're told in the book that men always assume war is about them - it's true - so this is the untold story of the home front.

    These are the women who are forced to house Nazi soldiers, the women who are manipulated into betraying their friends, the women who wish they could fight for their country and the women who secretly do. The main story is about two very different sisters - Vianne and Isabelle - who are trying to survive during wartime.

    Vianne is older and misses her husband (who is in a Nazi war camp); she must deal with her rebellious younger sister and the Nazi soldier living in her home, whilst also making sure her daughter doesn't starve. Isabelle is one of those borderline insufferable characters that also inspires affection. She reminds me of fiery, annoying, but ultimately lovable heroines like Scarlett O'Hara from

    and Kitty from

    . The best thing about her, though, is her growth. She starts out a naive 18 year old who falls in love with handsome young men instantly, and she later grows into someone wiser. I loved the way her characterization was handled.

    On that note about falling in love, this book throws up a number of red herrings. When Isabelle instantly falls for Gaetan, I was rolling my eyes and thinking "oh great. It's

    kind of book." But don't worry, that isn't the story being told here and Isabelle has a lot to learn. It's a multilayered book and none of the relationships are straight forward.

    And it's also incredibly sad and moving in parts, as a book about war generally is. Children in wartime are forced to grow up so fast in order to survive. Take, for example, this exchange between Vianne and her daughter:

    You really get a sense of how the Nazis took over the lives of the French people. How it was subtle and manipulative, built on fear. They gradually caused divisions within communities, scaring people into betraying their friends.

    It wasn't a perfect book, if there is such a creature. There were some slow parts that could have been shortened or edited out all together. And I wish the author hadn't used a bunch of American terms and measurements. For example, a "cup" measurement is not used in France. But whatever, I enjoyed it a lot.

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  • Laura

    So many 4 & 5 star reviews here, but I'm afraid I just thought this WWII historical novel was okay. There are so many novels about this time period and I didn't think this one rose above the heap. The last one to do that for me was Kate Atkinson's

    and this just can't even compare to that or to David Gillham's

    .

    There's some nice detail about the home front in France, which I have read less about than the English home front. And there are some exciting scenes featu

    So many 4 & 5 star reviews here, but I'm afraid I just thought this WWII historical novel was okay. There are so many novels about this time period and I didn't think this one rose above the heap. The last one to do that for me was Kate Atkinson's

    and this just can't even compare to that or to David Gillham's

    .

    There's some nice detail about the home front in France, which I have read less about than the English home front. And there are some exciting scenes featuring the French resistance's efforts to get downed pilots out of France. But there are also some small but annoying anachronisms (antibiotics were not really available until after the war; Germans didn't put up signs saying people would be put in "concentration camps"). Everything seemed very predictable: a hiding place in the barn is introduced; you just know it's going to figure in hiding Jews later. A kind Nazi is featured, as well as a sadistic one. And the last quarter of the book races through torture and concentration camps and death marches in a way I found tedious and unenlightening. Then there is what is supposed to be a twist at the end, but I felt like I saw it coming.

    So if you really, really love WWII historicals this might be worth your time, but I've read better from Kristin Hannah and much better about WWII.

  • Violet wells

    It was the comparisons to All the Light We Cannot See that attracted me to The Nightingale. Though both novels are set during WW2 the similarities for me stopped there. All the Light is a magical novel electric with beautiful resounding prose and refined artistry; The Nightingale is a novel motored essentially by cliché and exaggeration.

    Clichéd writing isn’t just resorting continually to stock phrases (though Hannah does this a lot); it’s also straining for tension through exaggeration to the p

    It was the comparisons to All the Light We Cannot See that attracted me to The Nightingale. Though both novels are set during WW2 the similarities for me stopped there. All the Light is a magical novel electric with beautiful resounding prose and refined artistry; The Nightingale is a novel motored essentially by cliché and exaggeration.

    Clichéd writing isn’t just resorting continually to stock phrases (though Hannah does this a lot); it’s also straining for tension through exaggeration to the point where dramatic tension degenerates into melodrama. No surprise that clichéd phrases often perform a task of exaggeration. - “She was scared to death.” “She couldn’t believe her eyes.”

    The Nightingale reads like YA fantasy fiction. Everything is wildly exaggerated so that WW2 is perceived as a kind of post nuclear holocaust world where this one event utterly eclipses the world we live in. The perspective of the novel is one of hindsight as if all the characters are experiencing not the daily hardships of the war but the totality of all WW2’s horrors. It’s like her research consisted of jotting down every single horror story and deprivation and shoe-horning them all into her story. It’s mostly set in a small town in the middle of France yet this small town is “swarming” with German soldiers, Gestapo, SS, Jews, bomb damage as if the entire war is centred there (I was only surprised Hitler and Eva Braun didn’t have a holiday home there as well). The two main characters are loaded with the ordeals & accomplishments of an entire circuit of resistance members. Isabelle is every SOE heroine rolled into one and Vianne is a kind of female Schindler.

    Plausibility is often sacrificed to “thrills and spills”. In the space of three pages a Jewish woman is told the Nazis will arrive at her house the next morning. Three paragraphs later – or two hours later - she has magically acquired false identity papers. Three paragraphs later she is about to cross through a peaceful checkpoint when inexplicably the German guard begins machine gunning everyone as if he got bored just checking papers. He even takes the trouble to shoot the woman’s nine year old child in the back. This is all passed off without explanation as if it were a normal wartime incident.

    The big surprise though is that the ending is genuinely moving and really well managed. Hence all the gushing reviews. Basically to enjoy this you need to anaesthetize your critical faculties. That done I guess there’s enjoyment to be had because Hannah is a decent storyteller and is good at developing human relationships. No doubt it’ll soon be a Hollywood film.

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