“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Published: February 3rd 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult
Stars: 5 Content Rating: 6
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.
H E L L O my lovely friends! The Nightingale was chosen to be my first book club read of the YEAR and it DID NOT disappoint. I had heard from quite a number of people how great this book was. I love historical fiction and thought it seemed like one we would really be able to get into and have lots to talk about.
Talk about it we did. There was so much that happens in these 440 pages. World War 2. Family. Sisters. Children. Women’s Rights. Beliefs. Serving others. Surviving. I feel like the author did a very good job with the perspective of a woman at that time and what it really would have been like. Trying to live and feed your family when you have no one else there but yourself. Just keeping your family warm and fed and clothed when the enemy is all around. It’s amazing what people went through. So many people died, and the ones who didn’t at some point probably wanted to. It was truly a heartbreaking read.
It was such an emotionally heavy book that I had a hard time reading it. I like to read at night and I would pick this book and read a chapter and then put it back down because it was just so sad! BUT.. so good. Like I said the author did such an amazing job with what I would think 1940’s France would be like. The story between the sisters. Their backgrounds. Their characters. The love and the loss. Trying to understand what was right and wrong and then when finally deciding, acting on it. Choosing to DO SOMETHING even if it is absolutely terrifying. Definitely read it.. just make sure it’s day time reading.
There were a few parts where the narrator (I won’t say who because *spoilers*) mentions “men” and their take on the war. The book begins 1995 and she receives an invitation to an event to honor The Nightingale. Her son sees it and immediately assumes it would be for the father. She says something to the effect of, “Men.. they all think the war was about them.”
Also near the end when the son finally gets an idea of all his mother’s family went through and her POV on the war. He asks her why she never said anything. Or told him any of these stories before. She replies with, “Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
This book really brought to life what the women had to go through to survive. The choices and sacrifices they had to make to stay alive. What they had to witness. Nazi’s coming into town and taking over every shop and livelihood and then living in their home. Taking all the Jew’s away. It was slow process and it was widespread. Taking Jew’s from all over Europe to the concentration camps. They were their friends and neighbors. Their children’s friends and school mates.
This book was written in such a way that I was really able to empathize with the characters. Maybe it’s because I’m married and have small children but the whole time I kept thinking, “What would I do?” I kept thinking there is no way I could do that. I am not brave enough. When it comes down to it, I’m just so happy I don’t have to find out it if I could be that brave and strong. This book is such an eye opener and just overall such a great read. It is heartfelt and devastating, but I would recommend it to EVERYONE. It brought World War 2 to life and gave me an understanding of the side of war I hadn’t really considered before. The women’s war.
Thanks for reading!