The Nightingale is a book you can’t put down

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The Nightingale is a book you can’t put down

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a heart wrenching story about the sacrifices, losses, and victories met by two sisters during World War II when France was occupied by Germany.  Throughout the book there is a contrast between the two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne. Isabelle is an independent, strong willed girl who deeply wants to aid in the war effort against the Germans. She finally gets her wish by helping deliver messages for the resistance and then by helping soldiers who are trapped in France to get out through the Pyrenees mountains into Spain. Vianne, on the other hand, deeply wants to survive the war with her family together and safe. Therefore, she strongly opposes Isabelle’s actions, who could very easily get her and the family hurt. Despite, Vianne’s best attempts to stay safe, the cloud of war still follows her. Trial after trial occurs, yet Vianne stays strong and pushes through. She is willing to sacrifice anything to get her family out of the war alive.

Interestingly, The Nightingale was inspired by a real story about a resistance heroine named Andrée de Jongh, a nineteen-year-old Belgian woman. She established the Comet Escape Line, a secret network of people who risked their lives to help allied servicemen escape over the Pyrenees to Spain. Hannah modeled Isabelle after Andrée de Jongh.

Of course, a book set in the WWII era is bound to be heart wrenching. I felt everything that the characters were feeling, and it seemed as if I was right there in France with them. I know that I cried for most of the second half of the book. Even though it was sad, it felt good to empathize with the characters so well.

The Nightingale also caused me to think. How could people be so cruel? How did the characters find the strength to keep going? What would I do if I was in Isabelle and Vianne’s situation? Would I go head on and help with the war effort? Or would I be like Vianne by trying to keep my family safe? All these questions expanded my view on the world in new and interesting ways.

Hannah created a book that is a remembrance of WWII, which simultaneously showed the worst and the best of people. This scenario set the groundwork for a dynamic and contrasting book. It was amazing to see the sacrifices the characters in the book were willing to make for each other: Isabelle for the soldiers, Vianne for her family, and Isabelle’s father for Isabelle. These were just “common” people doing extraordinary things. It was also horrifying to see the cruelty that people in the book were willing to do.  However, I appreciated that not everyone was shoved into a stereotypical role. Every character had a lot of depth. Not all the Germans were evil, and not all the civilians were innocent.

The Nightingale has won numerous rewards and praise. Some of these include the #1 New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, Audie Award Winner, Goodreads Choice Awards, and so much more.

Kristin Hannah has other successful books such as The Great Alone, which won #1 New York Times Instant Bestseller. Some of her other memorable books Angel Falls and Winter Garden.

If you’re looking for a historical fiction book that you won’t be able to put down, that will connect with you on an emotional and intellectual level, and that will cause you to walk away with a new mindset

I liked how the Nightingale was so determined to do whatever she could to help, even though she was a woman and discouraged.”

— Roberta Russell

, then The Nightingale is for you. If not, I’d still highly recommend it. I loved The Nightingale and I’d definitely give it five out of five spartan heads.