The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

Posted April 14, 2016 by elzaread in Book Review / 1 Comment

The Nightingale – Kristin HannahThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Published by St Martin's Press on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Book Club
Buy on Amazon

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 good-bye 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 a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaëtan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II 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.

Read: 10 April 2016
Recommend to: Lovers of Historical fiction and strong female characters. Elements of romance.



Some novels have these amazing opening lines. From that very first sentence, the book just has your attention and you start highlighting and making notes. The Nightingale also opens with an amazing quote and yes, I also highlighted it (as thousands of others did!) And then I’ve lost attention….

Up to around 14% it was nothing but cliches, stereo-typed characters were introduced and it was all sooooo melodramatic.

The story opens in Carriveau, France 1939. The plot mainly revolves around two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle. Vianne is quite content with life in the French countryside. Contentment is a word that Isabelle however never learned in the numerous schools she’d been expelled from. But then WWII strikes with a vengeance. And I was interested again.
This was the first novel that I’ve read by Kristin Hannah, but I don’t believe it will be the last. Hannah’s pen reflected powerful insight into a part of WWII that we don’t always think of that much – the women who stayed behind. Not all of them were strong and had the courage to stand up for God and Country. Some of them did what they had to do to survive. Like Vianne. But I loved her in spite of everything. Or maybe rather because. 
And then there was Isabelle. Beautiful, courage, sometimes downright stupid, Isabelle. “Isabelle had always simply reacted in her life. Someone left her behind; she followed. Someone told her she couldn’t do something; she did it. Every barrier she turned into a gate.”  She goes and join the Resistance where she volunteers to assist in hiding and shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain.
Kristin Hannah’s reflection of the Nazi occupation in France was handled with grace and a sentiment that although it didn’t dampen those horrible events, it left the reader with sympathy for even the most unlikable characters.
This is a novel for everyone and a story that has to be read and remembered by everyone.


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