Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Nightingale

The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0312577223
$ 27.99
449 pages

Living in France before the invasion by the Germans at the beginning of World War II is difficult to imagine.   Were the people ready?   What should they buy and store?  Were their clues of the impending invasion?  Why didn't the citizens leave the country while they were allowed to travel freely?
From our perspective, today, looking back in history,  we often cannot understand why the French people didn't all leave the country.  Of course, where would they go?
The Nightingale is a masterful tapestry interweaving the tale of two sisters, Vianne, and Isabelle.  The two live in the same place but have very different lives.
Vianne has just said goodbye to her husband as he leaves to fight with the military on the frontlines.  Both of them feel and or naively hope as if this will be a quick battle and he will return home within the next few weeks.   When her husband doesn't return life changes for Vianne.   A German captain has taken possession of her home.  How can Vianne live and support her daughter?
Isabelle is younger at the age of eighteen and has all the idealism of a world ready to welcome her.   She meets Gaeten, who believes that France can beat the Germans.   Isabelle is devastated when he betrays her, and she decides to join the French Resistance. 
Kristin Hannah has written more than twenty novels including her best-sellers Winter Garden, Night Road, Home Front, and Firefly Lane.
The Nightingale beautifully portrays the women's perspective and behind the scenes contributions to their defense of France.  The sisters' differences perfectly framed the movements by the Resistance with only a few of their actions that were all dangerous in an occupied country.
Kristen Hannah shows the war through these two women combining the history into an action-adventure with romance and mystery into a captivating literary drama. 
The Nightingale excels with an unusual setting immersing the readers into France during the year 1939.   You honestly feel as if you are transported to both time and place through this masterful storyteller, Kristin Hannah.

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