Review: The Nightingale

August 14, 2015 audible, audio, book review, historical fiction, macmillan audio, St.Martins Press 5

The Nightingale

  • Written by:  Kristin Hannah
  • Narrated by:  Polly Stone
  • Published by: St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan Audio, February 3, 2015
  • Length: 17 hours and 26 minutes
  • Source:  Purchased from Audible

Summary:  FRANCE, 1939

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.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime. (publisher)

My Thoughts:  While the summary above does an adequate job of the basics of this book, there aren’t enough words to tell what is at the heart of this book.  Yes it is a longish book or audio, but as we all know the story of WWII, it was neither short nor kind.  Kristin Hannah reaches in the souls of these two sisters and shares their thoughts of life, a few before but mostly during the occupation of France and how the people were forced to live.  These sisters were not Jews, not part of what the Nazi’s were erradicating and yet France was fighting them and the civilians suffered too.

I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the French resistance, so this book was fascinating along with  the role that Isabelle played in it.  She was young, daring, nearly fearless in her actions to fight for France and those less fortunate.  There were chapters where I was nearly holding my breath listening for what was to happen next.

This is the first audio I’ve listened to by Polly Stone, she was amazing, many different intonations of the characters.

I feel like I’m the last person to read or listen to this book, but in case I’m not, I urge you to beg, borrow, or buy this book or audio, it was very very good.  There is a bit of a voice of today, a character we don’t learn the identity of until the end, most is told from the sisters points of view.   There is love, passion, loss, and learning in this book.  It’s the first I’ve read by Kristin Hannah, but I do have some of her books.  This book earned it’s five star rating from me.  TriStar has optioned the book for film, and I think done right it will be amazing.

5 Responses to “Review: The Nightingale”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    Ha – you are not the last one to read this….I am! It’s on my list of “books to try before the end of the year”, so hopefully I’ll get to it in the next few months!

  2. BermudaOnion

    Don’t tell anyone but I’ve never read any of Hannah’s books. My sister loves them and says they should be sold with a box of tissues.

  3. Helen @ My Novel Opinion

    I’ve not read this one yet, but do have a copy. I’m on the fence about the WWII subject, I don’t really read war stories, but we seem to like many of the same books, so you may have just persuaded me to read it sooner rather than later. I read her Firefly Lane and Fly Away books a couple of years ago and really enjoyed her style.

  4. Michelle

    I loved this one too! I read it rather than listen to it, but I can only imagine how suspenseful some of the chapters were. This was also my first Hannah. This blew me away. I probably won’t read her contemporary fiction, but if she writes another historical fiction novel, I will be first in line to read it!

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