The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it was released on 2/3/15.
Okay, so I am a definite fan of Kristin Hannah and NOT a definite fan of historical fiction…although I have liked some in my day. However, I will start by saying this was not a book I expected when requesting it for advanced reading. Here is my summarized adaptation:
The Nightingale is the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, from France and is set during the time of the Nazi occupation during World War II. Vianne is just trying to stay alive (and keep her family alive) in her small town when it is taken over by German troops, including some who move into her own house, which she refuses to leave. During the years of the year, she is forced to starve, loses her job, tries to help care for the children of Jewish people in her community, and endures more than any one person should ever have to handle. Isabelle, on the other hand, is a rebel that is fighting for her country in the best way she knows how…by helping British, American, and Canadian airmen get back to their countries so they can help continue to fight the war against the Germans. She leads the airmen to freedom by climbing through the Pyrenees Mountains and is known as The Nightingale (hence the title of the book). For much of the war, she is being hunted by the Germans because they know someone is helping free the airmen, but would never expect a young lady to be the culprit. Any association with the allied forces in France is punishable by death, so her only goal is not to get caught. Throughout the story, we also see glimpses of their father and the struggle they have had as a family.
Now, let me give you my reaction, here goes:
I felt that the first half of the book could have been much more exciting and/or condensed, as I found myself wanting to give up a few times. However, I got on Goodreads and read the reactions of others who had finished the book and decided I needed to keep going. I am a fan of Kristin Hannah’s writing, but again, this wasn’t one of her typical books (in my opinion). Once I got past the halfway point, the story got more intense and, unfortunately, more emotional. Even though I know all of these horrible things happened during WWII, it is tough reading about them, especially from the viewpoint of the families that were just trying to survive. There were a few audible gasps that might have slipped out of me. I planned on being done with this much sooner to write a review before it’s release date, but it took me awhile to get through. I did end up enjoying the story, but felt pretty depressed from the whole thing. I will purchase for my high school library, because we have a lot of students interested in this historical period and it is an important story; but, I am also excited to read something light-hearted next (I hope!)
My rating: 3/5