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Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
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Summary: Read this review to learn more about The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

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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.

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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.



I read late into the night to finish this book because I couldn’t put it down, and now I’m writing this review because I couldn’t sleep without doing so first. I was pulled from my reverie during the last chapter when I couldn’t stop crying for the life and love that people created despite circumstances that were more nightmarish than I could imagine. The Nightingale describes a horrific time in our history, but it also describes the human spirit in an incredibly beautiful way.

Kristin Hannah shares the story of these two sisters who were different in temperament, but held together on the thin yet tough string that is family. I put off starting this novel because of the length, but I was drawn in immediately and could have read hundreds of pages more about Isabelle and Vianne and how they not only survived German-occupied France during World War II, but how they fought for themselves, for their families, and for what they believed.

Hannah doesn’t just share a history of the war, she shares the point of view of these two women, what they saw and experienced. She reveals not only the pain of everything they endured, but the humanity in that pain as well. The story is honest about humanity, but finds ways to emphasize the beauty that occurs in life no matter the circumstances.



 

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