Expected Publication: February 3, 2015
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic novel of love and war, spanning from the 1940s to the present day, and the secret lives of those who live in a small French town.
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 like a good cry once in awhile. What I wasn’t expecting was the sob fest I would get while reading this incredible book. It has been a long time since a book has brought me to so many tears, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Just that this book was heartbreaking and at times very difficult to read because of the subject matter. Most of all it was a complete eye opener for me.
I have never been a fan of historical fiction. But having read almost all of Hannah’s books, including Winter Garden, which was historical and I loved it, I decided to give this book a try.
History was my least favorite subject in school, and I retained very little information about the Holocaust and the Nazi’s, other than obviously how completely awful it was. Clearly Hannah did a lot of research for this novel because, even though it’s a work of fiction, it felt so true to life and it completely devastated me. The horror people went through during those times is unfathomable to me. And I lived it through the eyes of these two sisters. It broke my heart over and over again. So much that I can’t stop thinking about the book still today.
The book starts in 1995 from the POV of an older woman who’s son is about to put her in an assisted living facility, then it takes you to France in the 1940’s. As this woman is reminiscing about her life during WWII, you don’t know who she is until the very end of the book, and that was brilliant on Hannah’s part.
Although the flashbacks to France and the war are incredibly difficult to read, I couldn’t put the book down because I had to know who the woman was at the end. And I needed to know what happened to these two sisters in the story, more than I needed sleep last night. Seeing the war through their eyes was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Hannah’s prose is beautiful, her writing flawless. I have always loved her novels and have rarely read one without crying, but this book was by far the most emotional novel I’ve ever read. Beautiful and tragic at the same time, this book will stay with me for a very long time.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is a must read. If you haven’t read Kristin Hannah, I recommend you add her to your list immediately! Just make sure you have a box of tissues close by. And trust me, every single book of hers is worth all the tears!
More novels by Kristin Hannah I loved:
ARC kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can find my Goodreads review here.