Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 3rd February 2015
Pages: 448
Book Source: St Martin's Press & NetGalley

Synopsis: In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

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.

My Thoughts: 
I left a piece of my heart on the pages of The Nightingale. I could quite honestly leave it at that as I'm not sure I have the words to convey how much this book affected me. 

I read quite a bit of WWII fiction and nonfiction but at the risk of sounding cliched The Nightingale was different. I was incapable of putting it down, sleep paled into insignificance as Vianne and Isabelle's story took hold and I finished it at 3am, emotionally wrung out. 

Kristin Hannah captures the horror, the hunger, the heart, the biting contrast between humanity and inhumanity with an eloquence that left me breathless and ugly crying. Alongside the atrocities there are moments of great tenderness, love and always hope. This story is one big 'feel' and that's what makes it unforgettable.

Andrée de Jongh, the young Belgium woman who established an escape network over the Pyrenees which later became known as the Comet Line was Hannah's inspiration for Isabelle. It doesn't seem to matter how much I read of the holocaust the unimaginable horror never lessens in intensity. But The Nightingale recognises the quiet courage, strength and determination of women, those who protected friends, saved Jewish children, sacrificed and survived, made gut wrenching choices, worked in the Resistance, risked their lives for strangers, endured the unthinkable, died fighting evil. Those like Isabelle and Vianne ... 

I've read many of Kristin Hannah's books, I love her writing. Winter Garden is a favourite but The Nightingale is exceptional. I'll go out on a limb and say it's one of the best books I've read ... the kind of best that lands a novel on my books-to-be-buried-with list. I can't stop thinking about it, my heart hurts ... 


Connect with Kristin Hannah



24 comments:

  1. I will try one of her books one day

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  2. It is hard to write about this book because as you say its a big 'feel' book. I hold the Winter Garden as great but I think this one does contribute something very special and as I've watched the news the last few days I have been very moved by those survivors who have spoken at the Auschwitz memorial. Love that 'books to be buried with' !

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    1. yes tough to do a book like this justice with a review ... words seem so inadequate. I felt that way about Winter Garden too. That's right it's the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz ... so very sad but we need to remember. I went to the Holocaust Museum in London and that was very, very moving.

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  3. Wow. I've read several of Kristin Hannah's books, but I think this is the most heartfelt review I've ever read. Will definitely be putting this on my list to read this spring.

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    1. aww thanks Kay, hope you feel the same way when you read it!

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  4. Wow! This sounds amazing!!

    PS ... I just got Gone Girl ... about a 1/3 the way through ... not sure yet about it though :)

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    1. a remarkable read Julie, put it on your list!
      I've only seen the movie of Gone Girl ... she's a twisted bitch lol

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  5. Excellent review! I'm glad to hear that this book was so amazing. I have it on my upcoming TBR pile and I can't wait to read it.

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    1. YAY Christina ... can't wait to hear what you think!

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    1. It's a heartbreaking read but I hope you love it as much as I did

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  7. Great review Teddyree. I have this book on my list. I'm moving it to the top after reading your review.

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    1. Thanks Pat, I'll keep an eye out for your review. When you feel so strongly about a book you want everyone else to love it too ... fingers crossed :)

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  8. Lovely review! I couldn't agree more - this book is exceptional and I still haven't stopped thinking about it weeks after finishing. In my mind, it's the most emotional and heart wrenching Hannah book I've read.

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    1. me too Brandie, I was telling Kathryn @ Book Date that I've been in a bit of a reading rut since finishing it ... I can't stop thinking about it.

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  9. I agree completely! This book is now one of my all time favorites. This is a great review. I found it hard to find the words to give it justice in my own review.

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    1. So happy you felt the same way Cherie, I'm popping over to check out your review!

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  10. This definitely goes on my wish list. Thank you for a wonderful review

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    1. Hope you get to pick this one up soon Mystica, hanks for stopping by.

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  11. I read a lot of WWII books myself and thought I would skip this one. But after reading your review, I think it will have to be my first Kristin Hannah book!

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    1. Glad I could be a book enabler Lindsey lol ... seriously if you enjoy WWII reads, this one will be right up your alley.

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  12. What?! What an endorsement! I 'almost' bought this one last week but went with my tried & true SAA. Off to add this to my list since yoiur excitement convinced me :)

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  13. I love a good historical fiction so simply from seeing it was that genre made me more likely to read it. I also think reading about WWII is always an interesting subject because it was such a big event, and it looks like this really did touch you. I need to try it!

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