“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.”
Published in 2015, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is set in France, 1939, where 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 then, they do. 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. Meanwhile, Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old who joins the Resistance. Both risk their lives to save others, embarking on their own dangerous paths toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France.
A beautifully epic and heartbreakingly powerful story, The Nightingale is an exceptional tale, inspired by truth, that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.
I tend to find historical fiction quite daunting so it took me a while to finally pick this book up. But I’m a big fan of Kristin Hannah already, so I couldn’t wait to read it. And she’s such a brilliant writer that I knew she would make this an easy and engaging experience. The prospect of reading about such a heavy subject did scare me, but I didn’t struggle with it at all, and I actually found myself wanting to read more.
Hannah’s insight of the war from the point of view of these French women is remarkable. I didn’t know anything about the true stories that inspired this book beforehand, so I found it incredibly profound and inspiring, and completely admire Hannah’s commitment to telling their stories.
Everything from the relationships, the dialogue, and the descriptions of the settings are stunning. There were so many quotes that I just adored, which is what makes a book an instant favourite for me. I’m all about sentimentality, and for that, this book will forever have a place in my heart.
“She wanted to bottle how safe she felt in this moment, so she could drink of it later when loneliness and fear left her parched.”
This was always going to be an emotional book and it had me in tears a number of times. It’s a moving and unforgettable story, and one that I fully recommend if you want to give historical fiction a try.
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