Five out of Five, hands down
“I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be known.”
“From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic novel of love and war, spanning from the 1940s to the present day, and the secret lives of those who live in a small French town.
In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
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–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”
I’m going to be completely straight forward here, I purposely kept putting this review off. Simply because my words will not do it justice. I’ve never been so in love? with a book that it inevitably hurts my heart to talk about it. This novel is such a blessing and a curse to this world. It’s going to f-ck you up and it’s going to change your life.
First going into this I had no expectations. It’s historical fiction, I don’t really read historical anything unless it’s for school. I’m telling you, I’m in a bathtub of tears just writing this review.
I guess the rate of emotion it puts you in solely depends on the type of reader you are. If you’re a very connective, a one-on-one understanding type of reader, chances are it’ll get to you. I’m not going to lie, I cried alone in my bedroom for hours on end getting through chapters and even longer after finishing it.
It’s a story of sacrifice, love, loss, heartache and life. From the get-go you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. I didn’t know if I would like it, but as soon as I began reading it I was in and there was no backing out. It’s so captivating and really feeds your mind so much detail. You become a part of the war and the life it was during this time period.
You’re constantly being leery of characters and in the back of your mind you already know how the story goes. The one they tell you in school. The cut short version. The basics. I think I loved this so much because I’ve always enjoyed history, but it’s the deep, personal, devastating times nobody wants to talk about that really entice me. The Nazis invading France has always been something I’ve been drawn to learning more about. The Anne Frank Diary for example.
I’ve always been so frustrated because it has never been thoroughly talked about, if that makes sense? I completely understand how sad and heartbreaking it is, mortifying even. So this makes people not want to discuss it. It’s always skimmed over and I just want to beg for more. I want to learn from it and be put into their shoes. I just wish it wasn’t something we’d be too afraid to talk about, I think it could really impact our world.
I really took a lot from Isabelle’s character. She’s fearless and fearful. She has the kind of determination that could kill a pack of wolves single handedly. I associated my own life with her and she’s everything I aspire to be and more. Her will to be known and make a difference is something that I really connect with on a personal level. It’s completely opposite of the idea of fame, it’s the idea of changing the world in a brave, badass way. Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and so many other strong women who stood up for themselves and their beliefs and made a new variation of the world. The love between Isabelle and Gaëtan was so…It was pure and complicated, unknown, If I may. Yet through so much of this, they both still loved each other.
Vianne was strong but she was also weak, I wasn’t so much as drawn to her like I was with Isabelle. She went through her own personal battles. Especially with Von Ritcher, and living with the choices he made. My heart broke when everything went down with Ari, such a sweet boy.
Their father was a salty man, and the black cloud which followed him was for good reasoning. I didn’t like him much in the beginning but throughout the novel you really grow with the characters, it’s intense and harsh but it’s real and raw. I felt more appreciation for the characters I didn’t like in the beginning, as the book went on.
There was always a reasoning behind every choice, every decision.
While being honest, Kristin Hannah really brought another aspect of Nazis to light. We know how they were trained and how they acted and were as people. But for Captain Beck, it was different. Almost human. He was kind and respectful and didn’t act like a Nazi unless he was working. I kind of fell for him. He didn’t know what he was getting into when he became a Nazi Soldier and that really touches my heart. They’re known for their brutal, merciless ways but that’s what their job was. It doesn’t forgive or excuse what they did, but it brings their side to light a bit. The soldiers were almost fighting for their lives as much as any other. If they rebelled and refused they would have been killed just as any French person was. If that kind of makes sense?..
Even the minor characters I longed for, the Champlain’s, the children, the people in town, everyone. Every person was important.
The ending was this large realization and really sealed the deal. Just reinventing Paris and the life. I’m astonished and heartbroken. I will probably cry every time I hear about this book. This book has hit me harder than anything I’ve ever read in my entire life. I have the author and the person who gave it to me to thank. This whole book has been something in my heart I’ll always carry with me. It was special and realism in the rawest form of fiction. The person who bought this for me is someone I sincerely look up to and admire as well so it’s just full of meaning. I’m really grateful I read it and personally, everyone should read it at least once. It will change your life, you’ll have a completely new outlook on the world without a doubt. I’ll probably be sad about it for the rest of my life, honestly.
If you’re a fan of “The Book Thief” or “The Boy in Striped Pajamas” this takes emotion to a whole other level. I promise you, you won’t regret reading it.
🔽“Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.”
🔽“Tante Isabelle says it’s better to be bold than meek. She says if you jump off a cliff at least you’ll fly before you fall.”
🔽“How fragile life was, how fragile they were.
It was the beginning and end of everything, the foundation and the ceiling and the air in between. It didn’t matter that she was broken and ugly and sick. He loved her and she loved him, All her life she had waited -longed for – people to love her, but now she saw what she really mattered. She had known love, been blessed by it.”
“The Nightingale” movie will hit theaters on January 25, 2019. (I am scared lol, I hope the director does it justice and choses a good cast for the characters. I will watch it and I will probably cry, too.)
I apologize for it being such a lengthy review, I’ve never written one so long. However, I wanted to this this novel as much justice as I possibly can because it deserves it. I can only begin to tell you how special it is.