Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Nightingale

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: 2/3/15 by St. Martin's Press
Pages:  448
Format: Hardcover

My rating:
4 out of 5 stars

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a historical fiction novel set during World War II.  I've read a lot of World War II historical fiction, and I don't really think The Nightingale adds any new insight or perspective or depth to this time period.  I could probably list at least 7-8 WWII novels that I thought where more complex and well written than this one.  HOWEVER, I still really liked this book and gave it 4 stars.  It is highly readable and an interesting story that maintains a level of suspense throughout the whole novel.  I think it is one of the best Kristin Hannah novels I've read.  It's just not one of the best WWII books I've read.

The Nightingale is the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who live in France when the Germans invade and occupy their village. The story begins in 1939 and continues through the end of the war.  Both sisters make sacrifices and risk their lives as they try to stay alive and help others.  

I think it is interesting to read about what life was like for women during the war.  Women whose husbands were gone, possibly gone forever.  Women who were forced to provide for and take care of their children alone, in the most unfair of circumstances.  One of the most interesting parts of this story for me was the German soldiers who "billeted" with Vianne and the other women in their village in France.  Basically, these woman were forced to allow a German soldier to live in their home,while cooking for them, cleaning up after them, allowing them to use all their possessions and for some, even allowing them to use their bodies.  I cannot even imagine how horrible and terrifying that would be.  At the same time, one of the German soldiers who billeted with Vianne was not horrible.  He was actually kind and tried to help her.  I thought the complicated feelings between Vianne and this soldier were well developed, and added a different layer to the German occupation story.

While not superbly written and sometimes prone to cliches, The Nightingale is a quick read and an inspiring story about the courage of women in the midst of the many horrors of war.

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