Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and many of my most memorable reads fall into this category. That being said, it’s a genre that’s been hit or miss for me. A book is either at the top of my charts, such as The Book Thief, or it’s at the bottom. I’ll refrain from naming some of those bottom lurkers. This newest book from Kristin Hannah, however, suffers no such fate.
Vianne is living a happy, simple life with her husband and daughter in a small French village. And then the war becomes all too real as her husband is called to fight and her village is taken over by the Nazis. Vianne’s primary focus now becomes survival and escaping the attention of the occupying enemy. This is made more difficult when Nazi soldiers take over her home. And then there’s her strong-willed sister, Isabelle. Isabelle has always had a strong sense of right and wrong, and even the threat of imprisonment or even death isn’t enough to stop her. While Vianne tries to simply fly under the radar, Isabelle finds herself in the thick of it as a covert French Resistance fighter. Vianne constantly struggles with keeping herself and her daughter safe while at the same time doing what is right.
The story alternates between war-torn France and present-day America as the narrator relives this dark period in her past. Along the way we find out that nobody is who they seem, and you never really know everything about a person, even if they are a family member. An especially appealing part of this story is that the identity of the narrator isn’t revealed until the very end, leaving you guessing as to just whose story you’re hearing.
This book was a drastic departure from other stories I’ve read by this author. While all of her stories have been outstanding, previous ones I’ve read have had more of a romantic, women’s lit type feel to them. The Nightingale encompasses that as well as so much more. It’s a love story, but also a story of survival as well as family dynamics. It’s not just a book for women, but also a book for anybody interested in World War II and especially the role played by females. I look forward to hearing what others think about this outstanding story!
Buy It Now: The Nightingale