Thursday, September 10, 2015
Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Author: Kristin Hannah
Content Alert: Wartime violence, French curse words
Vianne and Isabelle are sisters living at the outbreak of World War II in France. Both bear the scars of their mother's death and their father's subsequent abandonment of them when they were young girls, and while they share a bloodline, they don't seem to share a worldview. Vianne, a wife and mother living in a small village, is concerned primarily with keeping her family safe and protecting her home. Isabelle seeks adventure, and finds it in the Resistance movement, moving into Nazi-occupied Paris right when most Parisians are fleeing the city.
Like many readers, I have a little bit of fatigue when it comes to World War II stories. I feel like I've read a lot of them, and they're all emotionally difficult for me. While The Nightingale is no exception, it's a book that's engaging enough that I wanted to keep reading. Hannah does a lovely job exploring the strengths and weaknesses of Vianne and Isabelle's characters. These are two women who are complicated, who make grave errors due to the ways they view the world, and who have to pay for those errors. It's also a beautiful love story (actually two love stories) and a story of friendship, loss, and forgiveness. Hannah also keeps readers guessing with a third main character (an elderly woman who is hiding her identity and is presumably one of the sisters, but which one?) The Nightingale is the kind of audiobook you want to keep listening to all day long, and would make a really great book club read.