The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale

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....

Title:The Nightingale
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Nightingale Reviews

  • Lori

    With tears still running down my cheeks I'm writing this review. I've started this review several times and I don't think I'll be able to adequately put into words the power in which this novel has moved me. Truely a remarkable story that I, literally, beg everyone who loves historical fiction to read. I will be gushing about this novel for some time to come.

  • Laura

    So many 4 & 5 star reviews here, but I'm afraid I just thought this WWII historical novel was okay. There are so many novels about this time period and I didn't think this one rose above the heap. The last one to do that for me was Kate Atkinson's

    and this just can't even compare to that or to David Gillham's

    .

    There's some nice detail about the home front in France, which I have read less about than the English home front. And there are some exciting scenes featu

    So many 4 & 5 star reviews here, but I'm afraid I just thought this WWII historical novel was okay. There are so many novels about this time period and I didn't think this one rose above the heap. The last one to do that for me was Kate Atkinson's

    and this just can't even compare to that or to David Gillham's

    .

    There's some nice detail about the home front in France, which I have read less about than the English home front. And there are some exciting scenes featuring the French resistance's efforts to get downed pilots out of France. But there are also some small but annoying anachronisms (antibiotics were not really available until after the war; Germans didn't put up signs saying people would be put in "concentration camps"). Everything seemed very predictable: a hiding place in the barn is introduced; you just know it's going to figure in hiding Jews later. A kind Nazi is featured, as well as a sadistic one. And the last quarter of the book races through torture and concentration camps and death marches in a way I found tedious and unenlightening. Then there is what is supposed to be a twist at the end, but I felt like I saw it coming.

    So if you really, really love WWII historicals this might be worth your time, but I've read better from Kristin Hannah and much better about WWII.

  • Aestas Book Blog

    has a 4.8/5 rating average on Amazon (which is HUGE!!) and what that basically means is that practically everyone who is reading it is loving it. And I'm now adding my own 5 STAR rating to that list because this book owned my heart. The ending was so

    has a 4.8/5 rating average on Amazon (which is HUGE!!) and what that basically means is that practically everyone who is reading it is loving it. And I'm now adding my own 5 STAR rating to that list because this book owned my heart. The ending was so powerful that I read the last 10 pages with tears pouring down my face and days after finishing my read, I still can't stop thinking about it.

    I will say upfront though that this book was a little different than the kinds I usually read and review though because it wasn't solely focused on a love story, even though there were two love stories within it.

    While men endure great hardship during war, it affects everyone. This is the often-unspoken story of women's war. Mothers, daughter, sisters, wives... this is the story of their strength, endurance, sacrifice, and courage during the darkest part of their lives. So many of them didn't just wait for their men to return but took many grave risks to save as many other lives as they could.

    We begin the story in 1995 with an old woman towards the end of her life, moving out of her house into a retirement home. Without much of a future ahead of her, she begins to look backward at her past, taking us with her through her life story beginning in France 1939, right before the war changed her peaceful life.

    The flash back segments of the book are largely focused on two sisters: the older Vianne, the rule follower, and the younger Isabelle, the rebel. Vianne's idealic life in the countryside with her husband, Antoine, who she'd been in love with since she was fourteen and their young daughter, Sophie, was changed when he was to be mobilized and called to duty to fight in WW2. The postman became a soldier overnight, and the man she loved was sent to the front, leaving her behind not knowing what the future would bring.

    Months into her husband's deployment, with no word still from him and with their already-dire situation getting worse and worse after France surrendered to Germany, Vianne and Sophie's lives are once again changed when a young German officer requisitions their home, making it his own. Faced with one hardship after another, they both do everything they can to survive, and pray for Antoine's safe return.

    Miles away, Vianne's younger sister Isabelle attends a sort of finishing school for French woman and hates every single moment of it. Her outspoken and rebellious nature unwilling to bow to their rules. When the war comes though, she makes her way through the wilderness to Paris.

    Refusing to accept France's surrender, and despite her sister's pleading to stay quiet and safe, she follows her heart and meets a young man named Gaetan. She falls in love with him and his belief that the French can fight the Nazis from within France. But when things take an unexpected turn, she decides to take matters into her own hands, regardless of what anyone tells her she can't do, and joins an underground group, The Resistance, that risks their lives to make a difference and help save as many others as they can.

    You know that feeling when a book is so absorbing that you just want to cancel all your plans so you can keep reading it... and even when you can't read it, you're thinking about it? Yeah, that was me with this book! Once I started reading, I could barely put it down until I'd reached the last page.

    As the past and present storylines began to entwine, these shivers ran down me as certain reveals were brought into the light. Real shivers. Tears would spring to my eyes with even the simplest of things -- but ones that had such a hugely powerful impact on the story. A letter from Paris. BOOM. Tears.

    This book is honest in portraying the events that occurred to these characters, but not overly graphic. It doesn't need to be. The things that happen, and they way they are told are so powerful that you FEEL them. There are some scenes though that are hard to read because they are quite painful and I'll warn that there may be triggers for some people, but then again, this is a story that takes place during a brutal war. There's everything you can expect from such a story -- brutal firefights, prison camps, beatings, near starvation, sacrifice... but there is also hope, resilience, survival. As I neared the end of the book, during the last few pages, tears began to pour down my face. It was achingly beautiful.

    Many of you will be wondering if there is a happy ending. I don't want to give things away, but I want you to know that I was completely okay with this ending. It's naturally not all sunshine and roses, how can it be with such a setting? But my gut feeling tells me that even hard-core romance fans will still love this book. I was moved to tears several times, but in many ways my heart was healed.

    Kristin Hannah's writing is some of the best I've ever read. It's extraordinarily vivid and evocative. This was my first book by her and I felt like I was right there with these characters -- not only were their emotions so strongly conveyed, but the picture of their surroundings came to life before my eyes.

    I have searched for years without luck for a book that could even come close to comparing to my all-time favorite book,

    (

    ). This book however, is the closest I’ve ever come to one that captured a similar feeling. The story is vastly different — while

    completely revolved around one love story that was the driving force behind the entire trilogy,

    was focused on two sisters and their experiences surviving the war -- while the sisters each had their own love stories, it was their personal journeys that this book was focused on. I also found TBH to generally be more emotional than TN. So, it’s not of course a direct parallel. But I will say that if you’re a fan of TBH and if, like me, you’ve been searching for years for a similar book, then you absolutely must read this.

    This was honestly one of the most powerful stories I've read. It will stay in my heart, I know this for a fact. More than anything, what I take away from it is gratitude... gratitude for every single freedom and luxury that I know so many of us naturally take for granted. They are precious. This book reminded me of that.

    _______________________________________

    For those of you who want to know who lives and who dies...

    _______________________________________

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  • Emily May

    What, indeed.

    I really didn't know what to expect going into

    . Given the quote about love and war in the blurb, I kind of thought it might be an historical romance set during the Second World War - like the world really needs another

    - but it turned out to be so much more than that.

    There are love stories in

    ,

    What, indeed.

    I really didn't know what to expect going into

    . Given the quote about love and war in the blurb, I kind of thought it might be an historical romance set during the Second World War - like the world really needs another

    - but it turned out to be so much more than that.

    There are love stories in

    , but that's not really what the book is about. It's about women in wartime, and it's

    . We're told in the book that men always assume war is about them - it's true - so this is the untold story of the home front.

    These are the women who are forced to house Nazi soldiers, the women who are manipulated into betraying their friends, the women who wish they could fight for their country and the women who secretly do. The main story is about two very different sisters - Vianne and Isabelle - who are trying to survive during wartime.

    Vianne is older and misses her husband (who is in a Nazi war camp); she must deal with her rebellious younger sister and the Nazi soldier living in her home, whilst also making sure her daughter doesn't starve. Isabelle is one of those borderline insufferable characters that also inspires affection. She reminds me of fiery, annoying, but ultimately lovable heroines like Scarlett O'Hara from

    and Kitty from

    . The best thing about her, though, is her growth. She starts out a naive 18 year old who falls in love with handsome young men instantly, and she later grows into someone wiser. I loved the way her characterization was handled.

    On that note about falling in love, this book throws up a number of red herrings. When Isabelle instantly falls for Gaetan, I was rolling my eyes and thinking "oh great. It's

    kind of book." But don't worry, that isn't the story being told here and Isabelle has a lot to learn. It's a multilayered book and none of the relationships are straight forward.

    And it's also incredibly sad and moving in parts, as a book about war generally is. Children in wartime are forced to grow up so fast in order to survive. Take, for example, this exchange between Vianne and her daughter:

    You really get a sense of how the Nazis took over the lives of the French people. How it was subtle and manipulative, built on fear. They gradually caused divisions within communities, scaring people into betraying their friends.

    It wasn't a perfect book, if there is such a creature. There were some slow parts that could have been shortened or edited out all together. And I wish the author hadn't used a bunch of American terms and measurements. For example, a "cup" measurement is not used in France. But whatever, I enjoyed it a lot.

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  • MomToKippy

    For me this was a fusion of sub-literary chick lit and WWII fiction in that it was too cliche and melodramatic much of the time. I thought the female perspective of occupied France and the tales of the resistance as well as the opposing sisters' perspectives were generally good ideas but the whole thing lacked in the execution.

    The tone of the book doesn't feel authentic to the time period and there are numerous unbelievable incidents and interactions. The historical facts are covered but the atm

    For me this was a fusion of sub-literary chick lit and WWII fiction in that it was too cliche and melodramatic much of the time. I thought the female perspective of occupied France and the tales of the resistance as well as the opposing sisters' perspectives were generally good ideas but the whole thing lacked in the execution.

    The tone of the book doesn't feel authentic to the time period and there are numerous unbelievable incidents and interactions. The historical facts are covered but the atmosphere and characters feel too modern. There are just too many dialogue and behavioral anachronisms. It's as if the the history had been researched only superficially and the rest filled in by the author's imagination with caricatures and stereotypes.

    Sorry but I think Hannah's fans deserve better.

  • Mandy

    I don't even know where to start this review. I am typing it through teary eyes, so I will keep it simple. (Insert tissues here)

    My pick for Vianne when this becomes a movie is Naomi Watts or Kate Winslet and for Isabella is Julianne Hough or Amanda Seyfried. Let's see if Hollywood takes my suggestion!

    This WW2 novel was so beautifully written. This war was a time of bitter hatred and in this story Kristin Hannah brings to life love, survival, bitterness, strength, and persistence.

    Vianne and Isab

    I don't even know where to start this review. I am typing it through teary eyes, so I will keep it simple. (Insert tissues here)

    My pick for Vianne when this becomes a movie is Naomi Watts or Kate Winslet and for Isabella is Julianne Hough or Amanda Seyfried. Let's see if Hollywood takes my suggestion!

    This WW2 novel was so beautifully written. This war was a time of bitter hatred and in this story Kristin Hannah brings to life love, survival, bitterness, strength, and persistence.

    Vianne and Isabelle are the most outstanding characters I've ever read. It would be an honor to know them if they were real. I have so much more I could add but I will not because it would take so much of my review.

    This is a story that will make you cry and have hope in believing that if you keep stepping forward and never looking back you will make it.

    I highly recommend this book. It's absolutely wonderful and a gorgeous story. I will cherish it always as it is now one of my top 3 favorites :)

    I'm looking forward to this movie becoming a film. I will be there opening night :) in the front row!!!

  • Violet wells

    It was the comparisons to All the Light We Cannot See that attracted me to The Nightingale. Though both novels are set during WW2 the similarities for me stopped there. All the Light is a magical novel electric with beautiful resounding prose and refined artistry; The Nightingale is a novel motored essentially by cliché and exaggeration.

    Clichéd writing isn’t just resorting continually to stock phrases (though Hannah does this a lot); it’s also straining for tension through exaggeration to the p

    It was the comparisons to All the Light We Cannot See that attracted me to The Nightingale. Though both novels are set during WW2 the similarities for me stopped there. All the Light is a magical novel electric with beautiful resounding prose and refined artistry; The Nightingale is a novel motored essentially by cliché and exaggeration.

    Clichéd writing isn’t just resorting continually to stock phrases (though Hannah does this a lot); it’s also straining for tension through exaggeration to the point where dramatic tension degenerates into melodrama. No surprise that clichéd phrases often perform a task of exaggeration. - “She was scared to death.” “She couldn’t believe her eyes.”

    The Nightingale reads like YA fantasy fiction. Everything is wildly exaggerated so that WW2 is perceived as a kind of post nuclear holocaust world where this one event utterly eclipses the world we live in. The perspective of the novel is one of hindsight as if all the characters are experiencing not the daily hardships of the war but the totality of all WW2’s horrors. It’s like her research consisted of jotting down every single horror story and deprivation and shoe-horning them all into her story. It’s mostly set in a small town in the middle of France yet this small town is “swarming” with German soldiers, Gestapo, SS, Jews, bomb damage as if the entire war is centred there (I was only surprised Hitler and Eva Braun didn’t have a holiday home there as well). The two main characters are loaded with the ordeals & accomplishments of an entire circuit of resistance members. Isabelle is every SOE heroine rolled into one and Vianne is a kind of female Schindler.

    Plausibility is often sacrificed to “thrills and spills”. In the space of three pages a Jewish woman is told the Nazis will arrive at her house the next morning. Three paragraphs later – or two hours later - she has magically acquired false identity papers. Three paragraphs later she is about to cross through a peaceful checkpoint when inexplicably the German guard begins machine gunning everyone as if he got bored just checking papers. He even takes the trouble to shoot the woman’s nine year old child in the back. This is all passed off without explanation as if it were a normal wartime incident.

    The big surprise though is that the ending is genuinely moving and really well managed. Hence all the gushing reviews. Basically to enjoy this you need to anaesthetize your critical faculties. That done I guess there’s enjoyment to be had because Hannah is a decent storyteller and is good at developing human relationships. No doubt it’ll soon be a Hollywood film.

  • Regan

    Beautiful.

  • Nat

    This review contains

    .

    I honestly didn't expect to like

    as much as I did.

    The premise of the book intrigued me (I've been really into historical fiction lately).

    This story follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, during World War II and their hardships trying to survive.

    My heart broke for each sister as I read their stories full of loss and pain. And I loved the shifting point-of-view that allowed me to see inside each character's head.

    This review contains

    .

    I honestly didn't expect to like

    as much as I did.

    The premise of the book intrigued me (I've been really into historical fiction lately).

    This story follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, during World War II and their hardships trying to survive.

    My heart broke for each sister as I read their stories full of loss and pain. And I loved the shifting point-of-view that allowed me to see inside each character's head.

    But one of the best things about the story for me was Isabelle. I loved her as a main character and her character development was phenomenal.

    She started out as a impetuous 18 year old, but in order to survive the war, she turned into someone tough and driven and so strong.

    Reading from Vianne’s point of view was just as nerve-wracking as reading from Isabelle’s. Herr Captain Beck made me really uncomfortable — whenever he helped Vianne and her daughter, I felt exactly as torn as she felt.

    Now I’m starting to get really emotional thinking about Vianne, especially thinking about her friendship with Rachel. Their friendship is so rich and real and it made Rachel’s departure that more emotional for me. I had actual tears running down my face when she helped Rachel and her children escape. Vianne’s character growth was outstanding and it definitely surprised me.

    This book definitely astonished me. It showed me kindness when I least expected it (Eduardo and Madame Babineau) and it showed me the losses and fears of so many people and their bravery trying to live through extremely difficult times.

    The story is moving and heartbreaking and the characters interesting and complex. What do I possibly read after this?

    Isabelle and Gaëtan made me really emotional. I’m glad we got to see him again after he left her. Their reunion made me smile after feeling sad for so long because of the events in this book. They are so good together.

    But being happy didn't last long because I found out that the older woman from 1995 wasn’t Isabelle she was

    — Isabella had died right in Gaëtan's arms.

    (I found this

    to be really fitting while reading.)

    ,

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    I'm not sure what I can say about this book that hasn't already been said, but the quality and sheer excellence to this story blew my mind. I'm not typically a fan of historical fiction, which is likely why I've avoided it for so long, but once this was described to me as "historical fiction light" I felt it was safe to take a gamble on it. When we decided for this to be the Suspenseful Clues and Thrilling Reviews September book choice, I was nervous because WHAT IF I HATED THIS BELOVED BOOK?!

    C

    I'm not sure what I can say about this book that hasn't already been said, but the quality and sheer excellence to this story blew my mind. I'm not typically a fan of historical fiction, which is likely why I've avoided it for so long, but once this was described to me as "historical fiction light" I felt it was safe to take a gamble on it. When we decided for this to be the Suspenseful Clues and Thrilling Reviews September book choice, I was nervous because WHAT IF I HATED THIS BELOVED BOOK?!

    Clearly this is a WWII saga, but at heart I felt this was a variety of love stories. Sure there was romance, but I'm talking the love for a people, the love for a country, and the love for fighting for all that is good and right. It'll be awhile before I can pick up another emotional read because I don't know how I'll recover from this one! Please, even if (like me) you steer clear of historical fiction and love stories, do yourself a favor and pick this up. ❤️

    *Feel free to join in our discussion via the link below!


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