Category Archives: historical fiction

The Nightingale

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When I first started reading The Nightingale I was immediately reminded of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Both novels are very similar, in some respects. They both take place in France during WWII and deal with the German occupation of the country. Both are tragic tales about the courage of ordinary people who become extraordinary.

The Nightingale is a novel about family. Two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, have been torn apart by the tragic death of their mother and their father’s inability to take care of them. As they grow older the rift continues to deepen. Vianne marries early and starts a family as her way of coping with the loss, while Isabelle escapes from various boarding schools making her way back to their father in Paris before being sent out again.

The war brings the two sisters together again in their family home in Carriveau. Isabelle is determined to stand out and help the French Resistance, while Vianne is determine to hide in the background and take care of her young daughter. But naturally, nothing goes as planned in war.

The sisters soon find themselves doing things they never thought they would to protect those they love and find the glory they wish to achieve. They realize things about each other and themselves that they had refused to see before. And find out that maybe the other sisters’ way of thinking may not be so wrong after all.

Isabelle becomes further and further involved in the Resistance, earning the name The Nightingale. Vianne becomes a force herself trying to protect the children of Carriveau and surrounding areas.

I don’t want to say too much however. This is a novel that you must experience for yourself. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I did indeed cry for about the last quarter of the novel. There is so much tragedy that is all the more heartbreaking because it happened. People’s capacity for hope is an amazing thing. Even in the bleakest of times there is something to strive for.

Rating: 5/5

Stay tuned for the next, and last, installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

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A Re-Return

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel that I started reading but didn’t finish. There aren’t many novels that I start and don’t finish simply because I have a compulsive need to finish every novel even if I don’t particularly care for it. In this case, I just couldn’t read the novel fast enough. I checked Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale out from the library many moons ago and started to read it but couldn’t finish in time before I had to return the novel. I’ve placed a hold on the novel and have finally got it back so that I can finish it.

I can’t wait to finish the novel and see what happens to each of the characters. I have a feeling that this is one novel that will bring me to tears. The other Hannah novel I read for this challenge, The Winter Garden, had me crying and I feel this novel will be very similar.

Stay tuned for the full review of The Nightingale. Happy reading!

When Christmas Comes Again

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When Christmas Comes Again is the story of Simone Spencer. Set in New York City in 1917, the story captures America at the moment we entered WWI. Upon hearing the news, Simone feels a desperate need to help in any way she can, especially after her older brother Will enlists and is sent overseas. What begins as a way to stave off boredom soon becomes so much more. Simone becomes determined to find a way to be more useful and help the war front. Seeing an ad for girls who speak fluent French, Simone signs up to be a “hello girl.” She begins her training in New York and is then sent to France to combat the phone lines and the switchboard.

What struck me most about this installment of Dear America was how grown up it was, even the main character was older than most other Dear America novels I’ve read. I don’t remember these books being so grown up when I was reading them as a kid, but then maybe I just didn’t pick up on it. Simone loses the things she once held so dear to her but does gain something as well. Through the novel we see her experience love, loss, and watch her as she helps soldiers suffering from PTSD. One of the best parts about this whole series is it’s ability to make history come alive. So many people find history stagnant and boring as a subject in school, but these novels are everything but. They make places and people come alive. Each novel also includes more history on the era present in the novel and it’s impact on American culture.

Rating: 4/5 Thanks for taking me back Dear America.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Christmas in July, or August

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book set during Christmas time. When I first read this category I had no idea what to read. I got together a bunch of choices but none of them really piqued my interest. Then on a whim I went into the kids section at my local library and found the Dear America series and the book When Christmas Comes Again, a Dear America I never read. Nostalgia kicked in and I decided to pick it up and read it for this category.

I can’t wait to relive childhood a bit with this book in the series. I was a huge Dear America fan in elementary school and can still remember getting some of the novels at the book fair. I love how each teach you about a specific time period in American history in such an accessible way. It made me want to learn more about people and places in American history and had me reading things I know I would not have.

Here’s to Dear America! Stay tuned for the full review of When Christmas Comes Again. Happy reading!

H

All The Light We Cannot See

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“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

All The Light We Cannot See is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read about WWII. Doerr has an amazing knack of capturing morality and humanity and holding it in his palms while things play out. You can tell that he meticulously researched this novel and yet it’s so incredibly readable. The chapters are short and oscillate between the two main characters, Marie-Laure and Werner. The oscillating keeps the story in constant motion and keeps the reader on their toes. Through the flashbacks and switching of years and characters, the story begins to emerge in starts and stops. You get to see the growth and stagnation of certain characters and the impact they have on this story.

Both brutal and beautiful, All The Light We Cannot See made me think, wonder, and cry. I became so attached to the characters I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know how the story was going to play out and how the two main characters lives were going to interconnect. At first I thought the characters were going down one specific path but, as it turned out, I was wrong. Their certain paths seem almost predetermined but Doerr throws in some surprises. Werner, the mechanical genius with the need to belong, fights his basic nature to be part of the Hitler youth movement until a major event shocks him back to himself. Marie-Laure, a young Parisian girl who has lost her sight, relies exclusively on her father until he is turned in by a neighbor and arrested. Then Marie-Laure must figure out how to navigate life without him. When these two incredible people connect it’s wondrous. The scenes still bring tears to my eyes as I type this.

This review can’t be complete without mention of the Sea of Flames, the diamond that perhaps caused all the ruckus? I loved how Doerr toyed with the idea of fate and our perceptions of objects and how that perception can change worlds. This diamond is said to be cursed. Anyone who holds it will live forever but the people around him will perish. “That something so small could be so beautiful. Worth so much. Only the strongest people can turn away from feelings like that.” Men fight wars over this diamond and this diamond is the glue of this story.

Rating: 5/5 Please go out and find a copy of this novel.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!