This is the third book I have buddy read with Beth @ Bibliobeth, she’s my reading good luck charm because each of the three books we have read together, I have awarded the highest praise, aka five stars. This month we chose to read The Nightingale, and I’m sure Beth will agree, this is a book that stays with you long after you have turned the last page!
Bravery, courage, fear and love in a time of war.
Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.
As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength is tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.
So I’m going to jump right in and say, if you enjoy historical fiction set against the backdrop of WWII, The Nightingale is an absolute must read! It’s wrought with emotion, so vivid and atmospheric is Hannah’s writing that I felt every emotion Vianne and Isabelle experienced as if they were my own – and I’d be lying if I said this novel didn’t make me a little teary-eyed at times.
Prior to reading this novel, I’d read review after review praising it, but still I wasn’t prepared for just how great it is – it has a bit of everything, The Nightingale really does work all your emotions: love, hate, anger, fear, worry, hope, happiness, sadness, you name the emotional, Hannah makes sure you feel it at some point. What makes this novel that little bit more special is that it focuses on the lives of two women, two sisters living in a time of war, and each sister has their own battles to fight. So often, in stories of war, women are overlook, so to know that this book was born out of Hannah’s research into the stories of the women in the French Resistance makes it all the more heartfelt – while the novel itself may be fiction, it’s real in my heart, and through this fictional tale, I was able to see the bravery and courage women displayed during the war.
While both sisters were incredibly well-written characters, Isabelle was my favourite because she had me the most worried I’ve ever been for a character in a novel. At times my heart broke for her, and I have no words to explain the courage she displayed. The action and the tension had my anxiety sky high. That’s not to say my heart wasn’t with Vianne too, because it was, it just took me longer to warm to her character – read this novel for yourself and you’ll see there’s no way you cannot fall in love with both women.
Hannah has created something very special with this novel, it truly is a memorable read, highly thought-provoking – you’ll want to discuss all that these women endure but you’ll also want some time alone to reflect back on this breath-taking read. I could continue to gush about this novel all day, but let me wrap up this review by leaving you with my favourite quote:
“In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are”