The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don’t get transported by many books, but the vivid imagery of this story set me in the time of Nazi occupation in France during World War II.
The story is about two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle. Their father leaves them in the care of another family after their mother dies, unable to care for them himself. Vianne eventually marries. She has a miscarriage and then goes on to have a little girl. Isabelle, the younger, goes from boarding school to boarding school, unable to conform to lady’s society. When Germany takes over parts of France, both girls learn what they are capable of under pressure and in constant fear.
One of the themes that kept popping up for me was this sense of abandonment. Isabelle feels abandoned first by her dad, then by her sister who couldn’t take care of her when she had her miscarriage, which led her down the path of failed boarding schools. Vianne depends on her husband, and after he leaves for war and subsequently becomes a prisoner of war, she has to learn how to live without his constant care and support. And of course, there is the bigger theme of abandonment in the French people as France turns over Paris to the Nazis, and the people who live there are now under the thumb of Hitler.
The characters and settings are complex and beautiful. Every time I dived into the chapters of this book, I got lost in the story. I’ve been to Paris, and there is a beautiful quote about Paris in the book that I totally agree with, “I had forgotten how gently time passes in Paris. As lively as the city is, there’s a stillness to it, a peace that lures you in. In Paris, with a glass of wine in your hand, you can just be.” It makes me want to go back and see the places in this story!
I highly recommend the book for anyone who likes a female character driven story. There is romance, action, and complex drama throughout the whole story. Definitely a book I will read again!
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