Book Review: The Nightingale

Title: The Nightingale

Author: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Adult historical fiction

Format: Audiobook

Published: By St. Martin’s Press on February 3rd, 2015

ISBN13: 9780312577223 (US hardcover edition)

Grade: Outstanding

Content warning: Physical abuse, rape, death, war crimes

The Nightingale

Synopsis

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 are 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.

Expectation

I read this book as a part of a readathon based on recommendations by a few trusted sources via the audiobook format. I was prepared for it to shatter me as I’d been forewarned that it is a heart-breaking story.

Reality

The book follows the harrowing tale of two sisters living in in Nazi-occupied France and trying their best to survive. Both of them have distinct personalities and different styles of resistance, which created an interesting contrast as well as conflict when the two were together. Despite that, they shared a strong sisterly bond, which I really enjoyed. While I related more to the quieter Vianne, I thought that Isabelle’s story was much more compelling, so I can’t pick a favourite.

The plot kept shifting between the events happening in the sisters’ life and managed to keep the tension throughout. The flashes to the present day narrative made me curious as to which of the sisters was telling the story and how everything came together at the end. It was also informative in the sense that it shed light on the role women played in the resistance movement in France during World War II. It is worthwhile to note that this fictional account is inspired by true accounts that the author unearthed during her research. Hannah perfectly captured the bleak, forbidding and hopeless atmosphere of the time with her masterful prose and world-building. I also thought that the narrator, Polly Stone, did a very good job bringing this wonderful story to life. Overall, this was an emotional read that will haunt me for days to come and whose praises I can’t sing enough!

Recommendations

I think this is the kind of book that everyone should read in their lifetime. I would specifically recommend it to fans of historical fiction and those looking for stories about women in wartime. For the music, I would say put some relaxing instrumental mix because it’s definitely needed to offset the intensity of the book. For the food, I’d suggest something comforting as well and my pick would be French onion soup with croutons.

Links

Book: Book Depository| Audible | Goodreads

Author: Website | Goodreads | Instagram


Comments

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Do you have any similar historical fiction recommendations for me? I want to read more from the genre next year, so recs are very much appreciated! Let me know in the comments section below.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Nightingale

  1. I’m alsways on the lookout for more historical fictional pieces since that’s a genre I want to read more than I usually do. This one sounds like a read I should totally add to my TBR πŸ˜€ And maybe prefer the audiobook format! Also, this can give me a great reason to devour some French soup with croutons ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linnie Flores

    Only heard great things about this one. I just started a phenomenal book (shameless plug) called Dark Inheritance, it’s so good. PB Lawson is the author, pblawson.com has a great introduction on it. It’s a Pshych Thriller with some intense story, I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just finished it. As in, 2:30AM I was sobbing in bed, unable to put it down. I feel like I need a recovery group to support me through this difficult time. Amazing… just, breathtaking. Once I recover from this, I might look into her other books. Love to know that it was inspired by true accounts!! That warms my heart (and breaks it all over again). Nice post! I think I will post a review after I feel I can move on from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The book put me in a funk too. I was moody and affected for days! I couldn’t pick up a single book. I truly understand how you feel. 😭 Her other books are supposed to be just as good. Her latest, The Great Alone, was received very well from what I know.
      Thank you and looking forward to your review! β™₯️

      Liked by 1 person

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