The tone of the book doesn t feel authentic to the time period and there are numerous unbelievable incidents and interactions The historical facts are covered but the atmosphere and characters feel too modern There are just too many dialogue and behavioral anachronisms It s as if the the history had been researched only superficially and the rest filled in by the author s imagination with caricatures and stereotypes Sorry but I think Hannah s fans deserve better.
I ve been told by so many people that I need to read this book It gets so much hype that I thought there was absolutely NO way it would live up to it But it did than that It surpassed it My favourite books is a pretty exclusive list and it usually takes me a while to decide whether a book fits that list or not but this was an instant favourite I absolutely adored it Even just thinking about it now I am fighting back tears because this was such a beautiful and vivid story I felt like I was with these characters through all of their terrible experiences and I just wanted to shelter them from it all The women in particular, the sisters, were absolutely inspirational They showed incredible strength in this terrible time and I loved seeing how women contributed to the war This was just a story that really resonated with me It has a special place in my heart for it was truly, beautiful If you like WWII historical fiction, or even if you don t, I encourage you to try this book out I know I m going to be encouraging basically everyone I know to read it.
In Love We Find Out Who We Want To Be In War We Find Out Who We AreFrance, 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 Francebut 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 G Etan, A Partisan Who Believes The French Can Fight The Nazis From Within France, And She Falls In Love As Only The Young Cancompletely 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 Beautiful.
I really tried, you guys There was even a 20% period when my standards were reduced so low from the previous 70%, that I thought maybe, maybe 2 But the last 10% was offensive Yes, I said offensive Review later And by review, I mean bitch rant fest People keep asking me how I didn t like this book Honestly, I want to ask them how they did.
Never have I ever read a book by such a clueless, air headed author.
And I actually don t even mean that to be mean, or to pick on KH It s just that quite frankly, those are the truest words to describe what was obviously in Hannah s mind when she wrote this book nothing.
She forgets what she writes a chapter, a page, a paragraph, hell, in a few instances, even one sentence, earlier Examples Mais oui, but of course 1 She forgets to age characters this in the first chapter Isabelle is 4 and Vianne is 14 when their mother dies Vianne is taken crying to Le Jardin and falls in love At 16, she s pregnant, at 17 she has a miscarriage Then, of her miscarriage, Hannah writes She d crawled into her grief and cocooned it around her, unable to care about anyone or anything certainly not a needy, wailing four year old sister 2 She forgets the weather Isabelle treks out of the house pre dawn in knee deep snow and then steals a bicycle that same morning from an SS officer who is across the street in a cafe Okay, so I m from Ottawa, which in 2015 was the coldest capital ON EARTH I ll PRETEND you can actually ride a bicycle in knee deep snow you can t But Isabelle takes the bike straight to Henri s apartment to hide it I m sorry but TRACKS The SS officer will walk out of the cafe, see the missing bike and see tire marks that lead straight to the French Resistance headquarters Or do you want to tell me people were plowing the streets in this village of a 1000 people 3 She forgets the season Winter temperatures Isabelle climbs over a rose covered wall WHICH, to be fair to Hannah, I live in Tuscany, where roses do grow on some mild winter days But roses certainly are not growing in Carriveau in the wintertime because4 She forgets CLIMATE Again, I m from Ottawa Hannah s descriptions of this French winter in her imaginary town in the Loire Valley seem to be inspired by the Arctic Tundra, because she s got wait for it, ARE YOU READY knee deep snow, hail, ice rain, sleet, frosted windows, ice sheened glass and frost limned windows , she didn t want to go out into the cold white world again she stepped over the threshold and out into the snowstorm , Bending forward, angling into the wind, she trudged through the wet, heavy snow hit the ground, cracked her head on the snow covered step.
5 She forgets where her characters are placed in one instance, Vianne exits her bedroom in the middle of the night to write down the Jewish children s names on the kitchen table, then finishes her job, leans back, thinks about her own kids for a bit then reaches out and strokes her sleeping children s heads, then cuddles in bed with them.
6 She forgets when characters have no money Vianne stuffs newspaper print in her coat for extra warmth and gets a tin can of oil in the queue but has money to just hop on a train to see Isabelle in prison Forget the permits she would need since by then ALL OF FRANCE was occupied.
She also doesn t seem to understand the definition of several key words in her novel refugee, garden, village, poor REFUGEE isNOTlocal inhabitants of a city under attack fleeing to distant relatives in the countryside or neighboring towns, or lodging in hotels in the countryside or neighboring towns I also took a lot of issue with how Hannah describes these fleeing locals 1 Chaos Dust Crowds The street was a living, breathing dragon of humanity, inching forward, wheezing dirt, honking horns people yelling for help, babies crying, and the smell of sweat heavy in the air.
2 like flotsam in the reeds of a muddy river3 Like a thousand legged centipede, the crowd moved forward into the great hall Side rant as for this thousand legged centipede does she perhaps mean a MILLIPEDE 4 The refugees who had arrived before her would have moved through the town like locusts, buying every foodstuff on the shelves.
5 clothes so tattered and patched she was reminded of the war refugees who d so recently shuffled through Paris, hoarding cigarettes and bits of paper and empty bottles, begging for change or help Isabelle, when meeting Gaetan notice how she s not part of these war refugees even though SHE WAS 6 There were dozens of people in her yard mostly women and children, moving like a pack of hungry wolves Their voices melded into a single desperate growl.
7 The crowd surged around him like water around a rockNotice how they re all not human Lumped into a collective beast a dragon, rushing water, millipede, pack of growling, hungry wolves that is THE REFUGEES But what s sickening about all of this is that Isabelle was part of them, and yet never once does Hannah include her in these ominous descriptions of dun dun dun dunnnnn THE REFUGEES Instead, she was getting kissed by the handsome Gaetan, because she s above the smelliness of refugee status, apparently Also, we re reminded three times throughout the book that the refugees broke Vianne s gate This kind of language that dehumanizes refugees needs to stop GARDEN Le Jardin is supposedly a garden, and literally means The Garden in French But this garden is a fucking farm because in a 1940 French village it has chickens, rabbits both plural , a stone wall covering all of it, a BARN with a car inside it, and ANOTHER cellar, a hill with a hillside between the garden and the barn and is so big that Isabelle can come in the middle of the night with three communists and move the car in the barn and hide a dead body and Vianne, inside at home, HEARS NOTHING More implausible still, even after the wall was torn down, not ONE of the poor, starving French people broke in to steal her fruits, vegetables, and live stock VILLAGE This village of 1000 people has Nazis, SS, and Gestapo, and a networked train system POOR Part I Seriously guys, what class were these people Farmers Because they own a farm Village people Nope, because they have expensive silverware, Limoges plates, Alen on lace, original impressionist paintings, and a spare bedroom Let s break down the math Isabelle is 19 in 1939 She is 10 years younger than Vianne So Vianne was born in approx 1910 Which means despite a dead mother, a drunk absent father throughout her entire life, growing up in WWI, living through the GREAT DEPRESSION that followed, getting pregnant at 16 and going to university while pregnant, according to Hannah miraculously her and her parents had money they live in a house a mile away from a village of 1000 people, keep in mind , for a car and to put both girls in university A car, a property with an acre of land, university for both daughters I mean, I m jealous here in 2016 Isabelle is bilingual, and knows how to drive a car, and is 19 years old and still in boarding schools in 1940 France, LEARNING TO CUT AN ORANGE I just can t stress the time period enough Getting kicked out, no less, for failing to learn how to cut an orange At 19 So then who taught her English, if her school was so worthless I doubt it was her dead mother or absent father To say nothing of the fact that back then at 19 you should be married POOR Part II During the war, they were eating cats and rats People were stealing bread There was nothing Salt was precious as gold and used for preserving food, NEVER for seasoning it Some examples of starvation during wartime poverty in this book 1 but what about the coming winter How could Sophie stay healthy without meat or milk or cheese Because bread, vegetables, and fruits were in abundance in wartime winters 2 She had sold off her family s treasures one by one a painting to feed the rabbits and chickens through the winter EAT THE FUCKING RABBITS This is Europe in the 1940s for fuck s sake Eat the goddamn rabbits 3 Moments later, she carried out a heavy ceramic tray bearing the fried fish surrounded by the pan roasted vegetables and preserved lemons, all of it enhanced with fresh parsley The tangy, lemony sauce in the bottom of the pan, swimming with crusty brown bits, could have benefited from butter, but still it smelled heavenly Wartime poverty equals no butter, got it 3 There is no food here in the city, Isabelle People are raising Guinea pigs for food You will be comfortable in the country, where there are gardens As long as you have a garden, you re fine 4 Vianne began finely chopping the mutton She added a precious egg to the mix, and stale bread, then seasoned it with salt and pepper.
This book read like a Mediterranean slim fast diet and a vintage fashion catalog than anything else Other than Hannah constantly saying how much they were losing weight and starving and going without, I would never have known Take away her adjectives like stale and precious, and it s fucking gourmet.
If this book wasn t so heavily inspired by Andr e De Jongh, I might not be so harsh on it But it is So, yes, a woman who WAS a war hero, after working for the Red Cross, who set up the Comet Line with her father, went to a concentration camp, survived for Hannah to sentimentalise her life the way she did, it IS offensive By focusing so heavily on Isabelle s beauty, and having Isabelle s beauty be the reason she so easily slides past the Nazis even Isabelle admits this , Hannah is actually ROBBING De Jongh of her strength, courage, power, heroism And I have a bone to pick with Hannah the real Andr e De Jongh was not blond I find it wrong for a blond American author to take a real woman, change her short curly black hair and add long blond hair instead hair so pretty when Beck comments on it, SHE CUTS IT OFF , and then start saying she s impossibly beautiful Especially in a book about WWII, where Hitler was prejudiced to anyone who was not of blond hair, blue eyed Aryan race What the hell This book is no historical fiction than Disney is a true retelling of the Brothers Grimm stories Which gets even WORSE when you start looking at what Hannah opted to change from the real De Jongh No mention of a spouse, in later life or during the war effort, is mentioned for De Jongh She survived the concentration camp and lived until she was 90 She began establishing the Comet Line after she first worked in the Red Cross ie, she didn t scribble a V on a poster and hand out fliers and BAM, hiked Pyrenees In contrast, Hannah gives Isabelle daddy issues, has her begin working for the rebels to impress a love interest, then has her die contentedly in her lover s arms What s so astounding and disturbing is that all the things that Hannah changed about De Jongh, were the things that made De Jongh strong, powerful, resilient, caring, heroic.
Then there is the writing style.
The number of times that Hannah repeated the same mediocre turn of phrase had me feeling like she was just enad with her own writing Which was sad, because the oft repeated turns of phrase were mediocre at best, rendered embarrassing after, oh, the fifth time How many times does a car horn aah oo gah How many times do characters note the black markings on the wall where pictures used to hang Hint one time too many How many times is something was all she could say Seven times too many Note to Hannah if that s all a character says, it goes without saying that that s all she could say How many times do people tent their hands over their eyes The French words peppering this novel were the most generic one word expressions oui, merde that felt like Hannah couldn t be bothered to consult a French editor so she stuck with the most basic words Merde is not the go to French cuss either Nor is it especially not the ONLY French cuss word either.
Similes that mix senses abound roses tumbling like laughter is just ONE example Clouds are stretched tight as clotheslines it goes on The result was, for me, a very cartoonish book with clothesline hanger clouds complete with clothes flapping , laughing roses, and a Roger Rabbit cameo every time a horn aah oo gahs And, in fact, Hannah thought her little aah oo gah was so clever that she even turned it, in one instance, into a verb Aah oo gahed I couldn t make this shit up if I tried, you guys Think that s not so bad In the middle of a detailed rape scene, we have, ladies and gents, He kicked the door shut with his booted foot and then shoved her up against the wall She made an oophas she hit.
This is exactly the kind of sentimental, senseless, ridiculous, bullshit chick lit writing that is PRECISELY why men make fun of chick lit, and what basically sets feminism back about a leap year or three.
Then there was what I can only describe as empty calorie description The only flowers Hannah seems to know of are jasmines and roses Every time there is a group of people, a baby wails and women cry scream Every Bloody Time.
Vianne sat down beside Sophie She thought about their old life laughter, kisses, family suppers, Christmas mornings, lost baby teeth, first words This is a generic description of motherhood that I, a non mother, could have come up with I could go on about the idyllic descriptions of France in WWII All I ll say is seriously, just pick up a vintage hat catalogue and French magazine and you ve got the best of KH s The Nightingale We re talking picnics with checkered blankets, brimmed hats, aprons, pencil skirts, berets The book was a fashion show, really The anachronisms were so bad too that it felt like watching a shoddily done play where the only thing historical is the fashion Expressions like I m pretty sure and bombed the hell out of make appearances Am I being too harsh I could just be a little pissed of still from the fucking bullshit that was the last two chapters of this trash book.
SO this book is about two polar opposite sisters in Nazi occupied France Sounds brilliant Except it has fuck all to do with sisters It s all romance All the book does is romanticise war You might be thinking, but come on, what s wrong with adding romance in a war story Honestly NOTHING.
So why am I complaining that this is romanticized Because Hannah uses war and tragedy in SERVICE of a romance It s a backdrop, a pretty set, for a romance to play out, just like the 5,000,000,055 references to clothes, hats, and valises Hannah even uses a real women , a real war hero, to service her love story.
Is this book really about two sisters learning to love each other I wish.
Isabelle puts not just her sister but also her NIECE in jeopardy by bringing the downed airman into the barn She escapes, Vianne stays behind What happens when Isabelle receives a letter saying that Vianne has a new Nazi billeting with her This Vianne was fine she had been released after questioning but another soldier, or soldiers, was billeted there She crumpled the paper and tossed it in the fire She didn t know whether to be relieved or worried Instinctively, her gaze sought out Gaetan, who was watching her as he spoke to an airman And then a page of her unrequited love for Gaetan That, you guys, is all the passing thought she gives to her sister Have you guys heard this famous quote by Winnie the Pooh Always remember you re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think Well, have you also heard the modernized tumblr version It s the same, but with and twice as beautiful as you ever imagined That last addition is usually written in bigger text or italicized for emphasis I m going to quote someone else now who analyzed it first Why did girls feel like something was missing from that quote in its original form Because the message that we constantly receive is that girls are not valuable without beauty.
Brave, strong, and smart are NOT enough for women they must be beautiful, too.
Why is this related to The Nightingale Because of THIS 1 Gaetan won t think I m pretty any 2 Vianne kissed Isabelle s cheek You re beautiful, she said.
3 When he drew back, he stared down at her and the love in her eyes burned away everything bad it was just them again, Gaetan and Isabelle, somehow falling in love in a world at war You re as beautiful as I remember, he said.
4 It didn t matter that she was broken and ugly and sick He loved her and she loved him.
Then in the last chapter, Vianne 1 I thought she was reckless and irresponsible and almost too beautiful to look at 2 Isabelle Rossignol died both a hero and a woman in love According to Hannah, it isn t that Isabelle survived the concentration camps and is a war hero that matters What matters is that she came back STILL BEAUTIFUL.
Yes, I do realise that she was bald and had malnutrition, weighed eighty pounds, had typhus and pneumonia and was coughing blood I do realise that Hannah was saying that, despite all that, she was beautiful Which at face value seems like a terrific message to send out.
But important than her dying a war hero, was that she died a woman in love Because that s Vianne s final thought, the final thing about her sister at the speech at the end That she died a woman in love Not, as Hannah tried to pretend, after seeing a free France and being part of the resistance In the camp, Isabelle had to stay alive long enough to see an Allied victory and a free France But she does see a free France and still her life is not enough In fact, she wanders out in the rain because Gaetan promised to find me after the war was over I need to get to Paris so he can find me Her life becomes enough when Gaetan appears.
Why isn t it enough that Isabelle is a war hero That she was brave Smart Strong Here s a radical feminist thought why can t we, as women, just leave beauty out of the equation entirely Even if she was a pretty woman, why does it need to be mentioned And at every page, too Which brings me back to that Winnie the Pooh quote For women, to be brave, strong, and smart, it is not enough.
Because Isabelle was exactly all three of those things.
And let me ask Hannah the same question she asked in the book You should take a break, maybe Let someone else do your mountain trips Isabelle gave her father a pointed look Did people say things like this to men Women were integral to the Resistance Why couldn t men see that Yeah, Hannah Well, do people say He died both a hero and a man in love I think not.
Let it be enough that she was a war hero, please.
So many 4 5 star reviews here, but I m afraid I just thought this WWII historical novel was okay There are so many novels about this time period and I didn t think this one rose above the heap The last one to do that for me was Kate Atkinson s Life After Life and this just can t even compare to that or to David Gillham s City of Women.
There s some nice detail about the home front in France, which I have read less about than the English home front And there are some exciting scenes featuring the French resistance s efforts to get downed pilots out of France But there are also some small but annoying anachronisms antibiotics were not really available until after the war Germans didn t put up signs saying people would be put in concentration camps Everything seemed very predictable a hiding place in the barn is introduced you just know it s going to figure in hiding Jews later A kind Nazi is featured, as well as a sadistic one And the last quarter of the book races through torture and concentration camps and death marches in a way I found tedious and unenlightening Then there is what is supposed to be a twist at the end, but I felt like I saw it coming.
So if you really, really love WWII historicals this might be worth your time, but I ve read better from Kristin Hannah and much better about WWII.
FULL REVIEW NOW POSTED 5 STARS HOLY WOW This book was absolutely epic A sweeping, breathtaking journey that captivated me from the first page with the strength and beauty of the writing Truly an unforgettable story The Nightingale has a 4.
8 5 rating average on which is HUGE and what that basically means is that practically everyone who is reading it is loving it And I m now adding my own 5 STAR rating to that list because this book owned my heart The ending was so powerful that I read the last 10 pages with tears pouring down my face and days after finishing my read, I still can t stop thinking about it.
I will say upfront though that this book was a little different than the kinds I usually read and review though because it wasn t solely focused on a love story, even though there were two love stories within it.
While men endure great hardship during war, it affects everyone This is the often unspoken story of women s war Mothers, daughter, sisters, wives this is the story of their strength, endurance, sacrifice, and courage during the darkest part of their lives So many of them didn t just wait for their men to return but took many grave risks to save as many other lives as they could.
We begin the story in 1995 with an old woman towards the end of her life, moving out of her house into a retirement home Without much of a future ahead of her, she begins to look backward at her past, taking us with her through her life story beginning in France 1939, right before the war changed her peaceful life.
The flash back segments of the book are largely focused on two sisters the older Vianne, the rule follower, and the younger Isabelle, the rebel Vianne s idealic life in the countryside with her husband, Antoine, who she d been in love with since she was fourteen and their young daughter, Sophie, was changed when he was to be mobilized and called to duty to fight in WW2 The postman became a soldier overnight, and the man she loved was sent to the front, leaving her behind not knowing what the future would bringHe stood up slowly and took her in his arms She wanted to bottle how safe she felt in this moment, so she could drink of it later when loneliness and fear left her parched I love you, he said against her lips I love you, too, she said but the words that always seemed so big felt small now What was love when put up against war Months into her husband s deployment, with no word still from him and with their already dire situation getting worse and worse after France surrendered to Germany, Vianne and Sophie s lives are once again changed when a young German officer requisitions their home, making it his own Faced with one hardship after another, they both do everything they can to survive, and pray for Antoine s safe returnYou needn t worry, Madame, he said We have been admonished to act as gentlemen My mother would demand the same, and, in truth, she scares me than my general It was such an ordinary remark that Vianne was taken aback.
She had no idea how to respond to this stranger who dressed like the enemy and looked like a young man she might have met at church He remained where he was, a respectful distance from her I apologize for any inconvenience, Madame My husband will be home soon We all hope to be home soon Miles away, Vianne s younger sister Isabelle attends a sort of finishing school for French woman and hates every single moment of it Her outspoken and rebellious nature unwilling to bow to their rules When the war comes though, she makes her way through the wilderness to ParisHer beloved city was like a once beautiful courtesan grown old and thin, weary, abandoned by her lovers In less than a year, this magnificent city had been stripped of its essence by the endless clatter of German jackboots on the streets and disfigured by swastikas that flew from every monument Refusing to accept France s surrender, and despite her sister s pleading to stay quiet and safe, she follows her heart and meets a young man named Gaetan She falls in love with him and his belief that the French can fight the Nazis from within France But when things take an unexpected turn, she decides to take matters into her own hands, regardless of what anyone tells her she can t do, and joins an underground group, The Resistance, that risks their lives to make a difference and help save as many others as they canOn this cool October morning, her life would change From the morning she boarded this train she would no longer be the girl in the bookshop From now on, she was Juliette Gervaise, code name The Nightingale You know that feeling when a book is so absorbing that you just want to cancel all your plans so you can keep reading it and even when you can t read it, you re thinking about it Yeah, that was me with this book Once I started reading, I could barely put it down until I d reached the last page.
As the past and present storylines began to entwine, these shivers ran down me as certain reveals were brought into the light Real shivers Tears would spring to my eyes with even the simplest of things but ones that had such a hugely powerful impact on the story A letter from Paris BOOM TearsPlease Just say strong and be there for me when the time comes for me to leave this cage Because of you, I can survive I hope that you can find strength in me, too, V That because of me, you will find a way to be strong Hold my daughter tightly tonight, and tell her that somewhere far away, her papa is thinking of her And tell her I will return.
I love you This book is honest in portraying the events that occurred to these characters, but not overly graphic It doesn t need to be The things that happen, and they way they are told are so powerful that you FEEL them There are some scenes though that are hard to read because they are quite painful and I ll warn that there may be triggers for some people, but then again, this is a story that takes place during a brutal war There s everything you can expect from such a story brutal firefights, prison camps, beatings, near starvation, sacrifice but there is also hope, resilience, survival As I neared the end of the book, during the last few pages, tears began to pour down my face It was achingly beautiful.
Many of you will be wondering if there is a happy ending I don t want to give things away, but I want you to know that I was completely okay with this ending It s naturally not all sunshine and roses, how can it be with such a setting But my gut feeling tells me that even hard core romance fans will still love this book I was moved to tears several times, but in many ways my heart was healedI love you, Antoine Mariac, and I expect you to come home to me Kristin Hannah s writing is some of the best I ve ever read It s extraordinarily vivid and evocative This was my first book by her and I felt like I was right there with these characters not only were their emotions so strongly conveyed, but the picture of their surroundings came to life before my eyes.
I have searched for years without luck for a book that could even come close to comparing to my all time favorite book, The Bronze Horseman into here This book however, is the closest I ve ever come to one that captured a similar feeling The story is vastly different while The Bronze Horseman completely revolved around one love story that was the driving force behind the entire trilogy, The Nightingale was focused on two sisters and their experiences surviving the war while the sisters each had their own love stories, it was their personal journeys that this book was focused on I also found TBH to generally be emotional than TN So, it s not of course a direct parallel But I will say that if you re a fan of TBH and if, like me, you ve been searching for years for a similar book, then you absolutely must read this.
This was honestly one of the most powerful stories I ve read It will stay in my heart, I know this for a fact More than anything, what I take away from it is gratitude gratitude for every single freedom and luxury that I know so many of us naturally take for granted They are precious This book reminded me of that Rating 5 STARS Standalone novel For those of you who want to know who lives and who dies view spoiler Antoine survives the war and returns home to his beloved wife Vianne and daughter Sophie who both also made it They rebuild their family and eventually begin a new life together in America although you do not see this in detail, it is implied Isabelle s rebellious nature and choice to risk her life to save others eventually gets her caught towards the end of the book She is beaten almost to death and thrown into a camp She survives this only barely When the war is over, she returns home and is reunited with her love, Gaetan She dies in his arms without regrets for the choices that led her there The ending of the book is a hugely emotional reunion in 1995 for the survivors of the war hide spoiler I m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn t already been said, but the quality and sheer excellence to this story blew my mind I m not typically a fan of historical fiction, which is likely why I ve avoided it for so long, but once this was described to me as historical fiction light I felt it was safe to take a gamble on it When we decided for this to be the Suspenseful Clues and Thrilling Reviews September book choice, I was nervous because WHAT IF I HATED THIS BELOVED BOOK Clearly this is a WWII saga, but at heart I felt this was a variety of love stories Sure there was romance, but I m talking the love for a people, the love for a country, and the love for fighting for all that is good and right It ll be awhile before I can pick up another emotional read because I don t know how I ll recover from this one Please, even if like me you steer clear of historical fiction and love stories, do yourself a favor and pick this up Feel free to join in our discussion via the link below
It was the comparisons to All the Light We Cannot See that attracted me to The Nightingale Though both novels are set during WW2 the similarities for me stopped there All the Light is a magical novel electric with beautiful resounding prose and refined artistry The Nightingale is a novel motored essentially by clich and exaggeration Clich d writing isn t just resorting continually to stock phrases though Hannah does this a lot it s also straining for tension through exaggeration to the point where dramatic tension degenerates into melodrama No surprise that clich d phrases often perform a task of exaggeration She was scared to death She couldn t believe her eyes The Nightingale reads like YA fantasy fiction Everything is wildly exaggerated so that WW2 is perceived as a kind of post nuclear holocaust world where this one event utterly eclipses the world we live in The perspective of the novel is one of hindsight as if all the characters are experiencing not the daily hardships of the war but the totality of all WW2 s horrors It s like her research consisted of jotting down every single horror story and deprivation and shoe horning them all into her story It s mostly set in a small town in the middle of France yet this small town is swarming with German soldiers, Gestapo, SS, Jews, bomb damage as if the entire war is centred there I was only surprised Hitler and Eva Braun didn t have a holiday home there as well The two main characters are loaded with the ordeals accomplishments of an entire circuit of resistance members Isabelle is every SOE heroine rolled into one and Vianne is a kind of female Schindler Plausibility is often sacrificed to thrills and spills In the space of three pages a Jewish woman is told the Nazis will arrive at her house the next morning Three paragraphs later or two hours later she has magically acquired false identity papers Three paragraphs later she is about to cross through a peaceful checkpoint when inexplicably the German guard begins machine gunning everyone as if he got bored just checking papers He even takes the trouble to shoot the woman s nine year old child in the back This is all passed off without explanation as if it were a normal wartime incident The big surprise though is that the ending is genuinely moving and really well managed Hence all the gushing reviews Basically to enjoy this you need to anaesthetize your critical faculties That done I guess there s enjoyment to be had because Hannah is a decent storyteller and is good at developing human relationships No doubt it ll soon be a Hollywood film.
With tears still running down my cheeks I m writing this review I ve started this review several times and I don t think I ll be able to adequately put into words the power in which this novel has moved me Truely a remarkable story that I, literally, beg everyone who loves historical fiction to read I will be gushing about this novel for some time to come.