by Kristin Hannah
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 440 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by St. Martin's Press
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Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.
As the war progresses, the sisters' relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.
It is no new fact that I am a history buff. I took every available history class in high school and am still facinated by it today. So it is no surprise that I am drawn to historical fiction. However for some reason I have always strayed away from stories revolving around World War II. I have been in shows set in World War II, met jewish survivors, and studied it extensivily in school. However when it comes to reading it I have always shied away. This book has changed that sort of fear for me.
I think I have been uncomfortable with how painful that time was for people. This book didn't dispell that feeling for me, but it made me understand the pain in a new sense.
This book follows two sisters Vianne and Isabelle, as they do what they think is best for themselves, their family, and for France in a Nazi occupied world. Vianne while quieter, more introverted and with a daughter to look after is a more subtle rebel has the danger of a Nazi Captain living in her home. Isabelle is more open and clearly against the Nazis and decides to leave after a time for she knows her actions endangers the family. These to very different women embodied a showed me a different side of the war, it showed how easily people fell under the thumb of the Nazi's and felt crushed. It showed how people turned on each other and how people supported each other. It showed hate and love to their extreme. This was a war of fear and courage.
At times the attention to detail had me questioning whether or not this was based on a true story or if this was just amazing fiction. After some research I found this interview with the author:
In a note to readers, you said you were inspired to write this book after doing some research on World War II, and you mentioned one story in particular that captivated you: the story of a Belgian woman who created an escape route out of Nazi-occupied France. Can you tell readers a little more about the genesis of this book and about that original story?
Kristin Hannah: The idea for this novel came to me several years ago, when I was researching another of my books, Winter Garden, which was set in Russia during World War II. While reading women’s war stories, I came across the true story of a 19-year-old Belgian woman who created an escape route out of Nazi-occupied France. Her name was Andrée De Jongh and her story — one of heroism and loss and unbridled courage — inspired me to write The Nightingale.
Obviously I couldn’t use this research in my Russian novel, but from that moment on, I was hooked. Her story was magnificent, mesmerizing, and perhaps most importantly, I hadn’t read about it before. As a bona fide World War II buff, I had read countless novels set during the war, and yet I had never read this particular story; I didn’t know that downed airmen had hiked over the frozen peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains in boots that didn’t fit, in coats that were too small, with both German and Spanish patrols searching for them. I didn’t know about the ordinary French and Basque citizens who risked their lives to help the Allied soldiers on this dangerous, arduous journey. As I delved deeper into the research, I discovered a wealth of stories that spoke to me on a profound level. Quite simply, the heroism of the women of the French Resistance captured my imagination. For years, I collected their stories, read their accounts. Then I tossed the magic words into the mix — what if — and I was off and running.
So while it isn't quite true it does have a basis in face, which is a fact I love about historical fiction. I say that if you want an amazing book, that may give you a book hang over, that will make you cry. That will have scenes that will stick with you for a very long time. Pick up The Nightingale. It is an easy 5 stars.
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"I am a mother and mothers don’t have the luxury of falling apart in front of their children, even when they are afraid, even when their children are adults."
A lover of words, reading and writing.