Synopsis (From GoodReads):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.
Review:Up until a few weeks ago I had never heard of The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. Several of my friends from work started reading it. But they quickly finished and one of them was able to loan me a copy of the book. That was a Friday and by 1am Tuesday morning I had finished it. It was one of those books you keep thinking about, even when you aren't reading it. I would be fretting as I was doing housework. What was going to happen to Vianne? Would Isabelle be caught by the Nazis? Who was the actual narrator of the story?
I love historical fiction, and France during WWII is one of those eras that I find fascinating. What does it mean to live through a war? I loved how the book described this as the "Shadow War" that civilians, particularly women, fought during WWII. When it was over, there were no parades, no monuments erected. People just tried to get on with their lives. This was a time in history where those who lived through it would rarely talk about the hardships they endured. That is why a book like The Nightingale is so important. We must not forget that the nightmare these people went through is the reality of so many people throughout the world right now.
Lately, I have been writing reviews in a "What I liked" vs. "What I Disliked" style. I can't do that with this book for the simple reason that there is nothing to dislike in this book! I loved it so much.
One of the themes I enjoyed was the exploration of bravery. What does it mean to be brave? Some characters had to make moral compromises in order to keep their children safe. Others chose to fight in the French underground. Many found other ways to resist the occupation and assist their Jewish neighbors. These were not easy decisions. If one was caught, the punishment could easily be death for an entire family. The character's moral struggles are so fascinating and had me wondering what I would do if it were me.
This book was epic in scale, covering the time just before the war broke out until a few months after it finished. I loved going through the journey with these vivid characters. There was suspense, romance, and heart-break. It was a tale I will think about for a long time.
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
Source: Borrowed from a friend (Thank you, Elisa!)
Format: Hardcover book
Recommendation: For those who love Historical Fiction, this is a MUST READ. It will haunt your dreams and re-enforce your faith in humanity.