In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France.-Goodreads
So let’s start from the beginning. I love history. I did it as a pure O’level subject and I got a B (mostly because I suck at Southeast Asian history). But I’ve always loved history. I’ve loved hearing about Hitler and Stalin and about what life was like under their rule. I’ve always been so fascinated by the concentration camps and about the mass killings. It makes me think a lot about how strong someone has to be to go through all that torture and still survive to tell the painful tale.
The first book I ever read of historical fiction was ‘Good Night Mr Tom’. I loved it. Second book, ‘The Story Teller’ by Jodi Picoult. I was in tears. So this is my third encounter with a historical fiction book and I knew from the very first chapter that I was going to adore this book.
I started reading it while waiting to register to learn to drive and right there in the driving centre, I was fighting tears like crazy. Many other reviewers warn you not to read this book in public and I have to say, heed their warning. I read most of this book in the spare pockets of time I could find in the midst of all my work. So mostly that was on the bus and right before I fell asleep. That meant that I was basically fighting emotion in public. Seriously this book made me so emotional. I have never cried at so many points in a book before. I’ve cried at endings. But no other book has ever made me ugly cry at so many points.
I loved the character of Vianne the most. The way she sacrificed herself time and again for the people she loved. The way she loved children and her family. The compassion she had in her heart was just breathtaking. It really makes you stop and think about what it really means to love sacrificially. She was just there holding everyone up. She never seemed to be able to stop and let grief over the people she lost take her. She was always helping everyone with their grief but she never stopped to take care of herself.
And Isabelle. Sweet and reckless Isabelle. She loved so deeply but often just didn’t think. Her character was so strong. She was forever the feminist. Always questioning why a man could fight but not a woman. She was the voice in this book.
In the book, there is an unknown woman who tells her story in 1995. We don’t find out till the end who that woman is but when we do, it is magical. It feels so incredibly real. Everything just felt real and painful and tragic.
Honestly I don’t think there are enough words to describe just how powerfully this book moved me. How much it made me think. By the time I was done with the book, I felt like I had left a part of my heart in its pages. Because the loss of having finished this book was so strong. Again, I’m not really one who gets that emotional when books end. Even if it was a good book. But this book just did strange things to me.
This book has gone into my favourites shelf where it will remain. I can completely see myself one day returning to it’s beautiful pages and immersing myself in the story of Vianne and Isabelle.
This review is also dedicated to all the current survivors of the Holocaust. Recently the annual commemoration in Paris took place and they are saying that by next year, there might only be a few survivors left and very soon there will be none. We must never forget the war. Even when the survivors die, we must never forget their fight. So this goes out to them.
My Rating: 10/5 (Yes you can have that rating)
Publishing Date: 3rd February 2015
*An advanced copy of this book was given to me to read and review by the publishers*
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