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.
Stay tuned for the next, and last, installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!
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!
Where do I begin? This book was masterful. The story building in the beginning was a little slow but once that was established the book took off. Told in both the past and the present, the novel describes the relationships and hardships between family members amid the scars of war. The depth of strength, resilience, and compassion in people is amazing.
The novel begins with the death of Evan, the Whitson family patriarch and the glue that holds the tenuous bonds of family together. His dying wish is for his two daughters, Meredith the oldest and Nina, to take care of their mother Anya and listen to the fairy tale she has told them since they were children but in full this time. At first both are so overwhelmed by the task of trying to crack their mother’s cold exterior that they just retreat and protect themselves the only way they know how. For Meredith it’s working until everything else becomes and blur, and for Nina it’s running away to hide behind the lens of her camera. But it quickly becomes apparent that both sisters can no longer deny their father’s wish. Nina returns to listen to the fairy tale and prompt her mother to tell her more about her past. It’s through this fairy tale that the sisters learn the truth of their mother’s Russian past and begin to reestablish bonds that were broken by Evan’s death.
I won’t give anything away because this is a novel that you must experience first hand. The beauty and the tragedy of it are both heart breaking and breath taking. I honestly cried throughout the last 100 pages of the book. I was so mesmerized by the tale the author was weaving of war torn Leningrad and the reign of Stalin. Russia is a country with so many secrets. There are stories presented in this book that I’ve never heard about or learned in any history class. The deprivation and fear of the Russian people under Stalin was horrifying to read. The most heartbreaking scenes are the ones in Leningrad during WWII where the people had to scrounge for whatever food they could find, even boiling their own wall paper and leather belts. The human spirit and will to survive even the harshest environments is incredible.
This book really affected me in a way I didn’t anticipate. I think the older we get and the more experiences we have under our belt gives us more emotions to carry with us. The older I get the more emotional I become and perhaps this is the reason. You have a bigger well to draw empathy from than you do as a child.
Rating: 5/5 Go read this book immediately!
Stay tuned for the next installment in Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!