I debated writing a book review for my most recent read because I felt my words would not do justice to the depth and beauty of this story. Also, I was very late to the game. This book came out in 2015 and I just read it this past week! There had been so much hype surrounding this book – I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectation. But in all honestly I shouldn’t have waited this long!!
So if you are someone that has not read this book, are a fan of historical fiction or not, I am hoping my review can convince you to make this your next read.
The Nightingale is a story set during WW II and follows the lives of two sisters Vianne and Isabelle in Nazi occupied France. Isabelle is the rebellious younger sister, free spirited and full of passion. She joins the underground Resistance movement in France, facing dangerous situations and consequences. Vianne is the timid one (maybe even introverted). Her husband is sent to the front lines and she is left trying to make ends meet for herself and her child while housing a German soldier.
The Nightingale offers a haunting glimpse into the lives of these women during World War II and the sacrifices they made, the hardships they endured and the courage they built.
Kristen Hannah is an amazing story teller. There is no doubt about that. The way she has woven the story is absolutely brilliant. I felt the characters were real, with honest feelings and emotions, wanting to be understood.
In various interviews, Kristen Hannah has said that the idea for this book came to her while she was researching another one of her books called Winter Garden. She came across the true story of a 19-year-old Belgian woman who created an escape route out of Nazi-occupied France. Her name was Andrée De Jongh and her story — one of heroism and loss and unbridled courage — inspired her to write The Nightingale.
The Nightingale opens with these words which are essentially the central theme to this book.
“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”The Nightingale, Kristen Hannah
I think when we talk of war stories, the focus is on the soldiers and their bravery in difficult times. But often what is over looked is the role women played during the war. It is not only about the sacrifices they made, but the sheer bravery they displayed during these times! We seldom hear about the tenacity of these wives, daughters and sisters and their stories during the war. Some women hid Jewish children in their homes, risking their lives and paying a terrible price for this act of heroism. While some women were in the center of it all, taking on the role of spies and couriers during the Resistance.
I think this book brilliantly displays an ode to women in the war, and their story which must not be forgotten.
It was hard to pick out just a few lines from this book that I loved. There are so many that left me deep in thought, or had me pause to take in what had just been said. Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order)
“Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.”
“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
“Perhaps that’s why I find myself looking backward. The past has a clarity I can no longer see in the present.”
Would I Recommend and Where to get this Book
This is definitely a must read ! You do not have to be a historical fiction buff to immerse yourself in this story. The author will pull you in with her words!
To get your own copy to own and display proudly on your shelf, you can purchase one from Book Depository. This is an affiliate link, which means a get a teeny tiny commission if you decide to purchase from my link, at no extra cost to you!
Alternatively, if you are a resident in Qatar, there is a copy available at the Qatar National Library.
Lastly, if you are in Karachi head on over to My Bookshelf to see how you can borrow it from them.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? And if you haven’t read it yet, will you pick it up as your next read?
Until next time. Happy Reading.