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Vianne and Isabelle are two sisters living in war torn France. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah tell us their story as well as the untold stories of the many women left behind to fend for themselves in a war created by men for their greed and undying thirst for power.
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.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a poignant heartbreaking story that follows the life of two sisters – one a rule follower and the other a rebel, a rule breaker in France against the backdrop of World War 2.
“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.”
In the beginning of the book, when we are introduced to the characters of Isabelle and Vianne, I instantly found myself developing a dislike towards both of them for multiple reasons. Vianne was a blind follower of those in power and constantly depends on her husband to take care of everything . Isabelle was rash, arrogant and very judgemental of others around her. I started doubting my choice in books and almost gave up on this one but something kept me reading more. That decision, fortunately, paid off in the end.
The character development of both the sisters was astounding. Their transformation was slow, realistic and completely fascinating. Kristin Hannah truly wins us over by depicting these women as real people with real flaws and with plenty of grey shades instead of depicting them as paragons of virtue.
“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.”
I have read many holocaust books but to read it from the POV of women left behind, who were forced to let the Nazis share their homes and who were manipulated and tricked into betraying their loved ones, was a revelation. It was also an inspiring read as it also talks about how these women also fought back, putting everything on the line, even their life to save thousands even as men on the battlefront killed and got themselves killed.
This book is a must read for fans of historical fiction and war fiction. Even if you are not, I would still urge you to pick it up as it was a truly inspiring tale to read.
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About The Author
Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.
Kristin’s highly anticipated new release, The Great Alone, will be published on February 6, 2018 (St. Martin’s Press). The novel, an epic love story and intimate family drama set in Alaska in the turbulent 1970’s is a daring, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival and the wildness that lives in both nature and man. It has been listed as one of the most anticipated novels of the year by The Seattle Times, Bustle.com, PopSugar, Working Mother, Southern Living, and Goodreads.
The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with award-winning director Michelle MacLaren set to direct. Home Front was optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to write, produce, and direct. Movie news on The Great Alone is coming soon.