Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah is one of those writers who consistently writes incredible and emotionally gut-wrenching stories. Everything I have read by her up until this point has been more contemporary, almost family drama-like...think Parenthood, but in novel form. Her newest novel, The Nightingale, deviates from this, but is, in my opinion, her best novel to date.

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The Nightingale is historical fiction set during World War II in German-occupied France. When most people think about wars, their first thoughts are of the soldiers and the fighting and while that may be more of the focus in high school history class, the more important stories come from those who were left behind, specifically the women and the children. Hannah's novel focuses on two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, in occupied France and how far they are willing to go in order to survive the hardships of the war.

While the novel is fiction, Vianne and Isabelle's stories are ones that incredibly realistic and are based on things that actually happened during World War II. Rather than stay at home and wait for their male family members to return from the war, the sisters choose, instead, to take action, both in very different ways. Vianne and Isabelle each endured incredible, unimaginable circumstances. They were faced with danger and difficult decisions. They had to be brave and strong and continue to move forward despite their hardships.

Hannah has an incredible way with words, capturing the reader with vivid descriptions and detail. The reader is able to see what the characters are seeing and feel what they are feeling. I felt like I was there with Vianne and Isabelle, experiencing what were were: hunger, desperation, cold, separation from a loved one, pain, fear, etc. The emotional impact of The Nightingale is significant, especially the last quarter of the novel. It was incredibly hard to put down and I found myself reading well into the night in order to find out what would happen next.

The Nightingale is a beautiful, powerful, and moving book. It makes you feel, but more importantly, it makes you think. I give this book a 10 out of 10 and highly recommend that everyone reads it immediately.

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