Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: The Nightingale

This was a book club selection. After trudging through last month's lengthy book (without much enthusiasm), I was feeling a bit nervous about taking on another book of 400+ pages. Plus, it was a book about World War II and I wasn't really feeling up for that topic. However, I'm so glad I stuck with this book. It was a very moving and emotionally-stirring read. I should have expected good things because I have always loved other books by Kristin Hannah.

The Nightingale is the story of two sisters in war-torn France. Isabelle, the younger, is a reckless, headstrong teenager who has already been expelled from (and run away from) countless boarding schools. Vianne, the older, has a husband and young child, and lives in the country. When Isabelle is sent away from yet another school, her father sends her to live with Vianne (whose husband has gone to the front to fight). Nazis invade Vianne's quaint little village and a German captain requisitions her home. Isabelle is restless in the little town and cannot bite her tongue often enough in the presence of the enemy, so she returns to Paris and joins the Resistance. Both sisters must make their way through the devastation of war and fight to defend what is right.

Hannah has not only captured the essence of war, but has highlighted the experiences of women in the war. These two different sisters might struggle to get along, but they are both determined to make a difference in their dark corner of the world. Although it took a little while for me to be fully enticed into the story, once pulled in, I could not look away. As I finished reading the book, my youngest son came in to tell me that dinner was waiting (so thankful that my husband was willing to cook while I read on). He found me weeping and I had to recount why once we were seated together at the table. My husband's constant question is always, "is this a real story or just fiction?" Groan. Fiction for me is as good as real and I know that there were plenty of women who lived lives similar to the ones crafted in this novel. I was thoroughly moved by the bravery and fortitude of these fictional characters. It was definitely worth the effort.

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