The Nightingale

The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah

Overview:
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 a German captain requisitions Vianne's home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

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 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. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures 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.

Gail Reid (10/17/15): There is a great deal of Holocaust and World War II-themed literature that has become popular in recent times. While The Nightingale echoes Sarah's Key and The Paris Architect in exposing the horror of French treatment of Jewish citizens, this novel explores courage and righteousness on the part of two Christian sisters who are entirely different in their thoughts and actions but exhibit virtuousness during extreme conditions.

This is a wonderful, engaging novel and its bestseller status is guaranteed. The author does a remarkable job of describing food rationing and deprivation of clothing and shoes and the relentless pain of war year after year. I feel that there are a few contrivances in the book but one particular twist is very well executed and a genuine surprise.
Rating: ****

Judy Stanton (06/01/15): A well-written book, that, although it numbers more than 700 pages on an e- reader, seems to fly by as you get deeper into the story. Not your typical Holocaust novel, the book centers on the battles and deprivations in France, and the impact on people and families throughout the country. Sisters Viane and Isabelle face real life familial issues and take different paths, both putting them in harm's way. To survive what they confronted, to volunteer to do what they did, seems amazing and almost super-human. The descriptions of Nazi persecution were vivid and agonizingly real. Not easy to read. Well developed characters, real life family issues, interesting angle of women's role in war. Would highly recommend.
Rating: *****

Debbie Weiss(06/01/15): Vianne and Isabelle are sisters who share a very difficult childhood. Their father returns from war a broken man, unable to love his family. Their mother dies and the girls are sent to a relative outside of Paris where they are to be raised without their father's presence. The girls are very different and while they both long for the love of their family, they are not able to provide love to each other.

Vianne marries Antoine and has a daughter, Sophie. Then the Germans come. Antoine goes off to war and Isabelle joins the Resistance. Vianne is left alone to care for Sophie. There have been many books written with WWII and the Holocaust in the background, but this book really affected me. The characters were extremely well developed and the reader experiences all the difficulties that the French people had to deal with during these horrible years. Yet with all the brutality that existed, there were heroes amongst the masses --- often the heroes are the people you would least expect to stand out and make a difference. We can choose to do the right thing. I did not want this book to end, and though I am not the sentimental type, I did have a good cry in the end.
Rating: *****

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