The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
Published by St Martin’s Press, 8th October 2015
Genres: Historical fiction, romance
Source: Purchased (new)
Trigger warnings: War atrocities, sexual assault
In love we find out who we want to be, in war we find out who we are.
The Mauriac sisters, Vianne and Isabelle could not be more different. Vianne is the eldest; responsible, quiet and family-oriented. Isabelle is outspoken, rebellious and passionate. Estranged by the death of their mother and their father’s abandonment, the two sisters will be thrown together again by the Second World War.
Vianne’s husband goes to fight the Nazis and defend France, leaving her behind with their young daughter. Vianne’s house is requisitioned and she finds herself living under the same roof as German officers. Throughout the deprivations of the German Occupation, Vianne must make some difficult decisions to keep her family alive. Isabelle seeks refuge with Vianne when the Nazis invade Paris but soon becomes restless. She joins the local branch of the French Resistance and risks her life time and again to save others.
Wow, I really loved this book! Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and I particularly love reading about WW2. That probably sounds strange, but I find it so interesting to read about the strength and resilience of the people who lived through those times. This was beautifully captured in this book and the incredible courage of these women was remarkable.
I love that the author chose to shine a light on the role the women played during the German occupation of France. So often, stories of war focus on the men. But the women are the ones left behind, trying to keep their children safe and fed, never knowing if their husbands will return. I particularly enjoyed learning about the women who were part of the French Resistance.
The sisters’ relationship was also beautifully captured. Although very different, both women are similar in certain ways. Little do they know, but they share the same courage and determination, and a strong bond of love. And their achievements during the war are just unbelievable.
Throughout the story, there are also chapters from the present day, in which we see an older woman reminiscing about her life in France, although her family in America know nothing about her past. I loved these chapters as it is unclear who this woman is, until the end. The ending was just so moving and emotional that I cried.
Truly a beautiful book and it was a delight to discuss it with my new little book club. I will definitely be reading more from Kristin Hannah as soon as I can.
My rating: 5/5