In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
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.
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’ve been meaning to write a review for this one for quite sometime. Now that I’ve finally started, here it is.
When I read the book, it was clear why it is so highly rated and loved by almost all who read it. It is impossible not to be moved by the story. And ah, the writing. It was paradise.
The story starts with an old woman towards the end of her life, 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, normal life.
We go backwards to past which focuses on two sisters: Vianne and Isabelle. The story is told in dual POVs by both of them.
Vianne’s life in the countryside with her husband, Antoine and their young daughter, Sophie, changed when he was to be mobilized and called to duty to fight in WW2. The earlier postman was forced to become a soldier and the man she loved and married was sent to fight, leaving her behind anxious about what her future holds for her.
Months later, a young German officer moves into their home and Vianne is forced to deal with him, make sure her daughter doesn’t starve and take care of her rebellious younger sister.
I love how Isabelle’s character grows in the book. She starts as an 18 year old rebellious girl who falls instantly in love with handsome young men, but then becomes wiser as she attains mental maturity. The transition was really natural and I loved how her character was handled.
The book portrays perfectly how families suffer during wartime, how children are forced to grow up fast and all the consequences of a war.
The book was really emotional and while some parts could’ve moved a little faster, I still loved it. It was a phenomenal read.