Aestas Book Blog's Reviews > The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
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it was amazing
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::: 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 Amazon (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 bring.

He 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 return.

“You 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 more 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 Paris.

Her 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 can.

On 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. Tears.

“Please… 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 healed.

“I 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 (more 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 more 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.
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For those of you who want to know who lives and who dies... (view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

March 9, 2015 – Started Reading
March 9, 2015 – Shelved
March 9, 2015 –
5.0% "LOVING THIS BOOK!!\n “I love you,” he said against her lips.\n “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. "
March 9, 2015 –
19.0% "“You needn’t worry, Madame,” he said. “We have been admonished to act as gentlemen. My mother would demand the same, and, in truth, she scared me more than my general.” It was such an ordinary remark that Vianne was taken aback.\n \n 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…"
March 9, 2015 –
25.0% " “Was he a prisoner of war? Was he wounded somewhere? Dead? Or would he look up one day and see him walking up this road, smiling?" "
March 9, 2015 –
34.0% " Holy crap!!!!! This is so POWERFUL!!!!!! 4 simple words and suddenly I’m crying. -- LOVING this book!"
March 9, 2015 –
39.0% "Ohhh, the FEELS!!! *sniff*\n “Please… Just say strong and be there for me when the time comes for me to leave this cage… Because of you, I can survive.\n Hold my daughter tightly tonight, and tell her that somewhere far away, her papa is thinking of her. And tell her I will return.\n I love you." "
March 9, 2015 –
47.0% "Can't. Stop. Reading!!!\n “On 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… \n From now on, she was Juliette Gervaise, code name the Nightingale.” "
March 9, 2015 –
67.0% "OMG!! *gasp* THIS BOOK!!! I can't stop reading!"
March 9, 2015 –
77.0% "Gah!!! This hurts!"
March 9, 2015 –
80.0% "You know that feeling when a book is so good 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's me with this book."
March 9, 2015 –
99.0% "Wow wow wow!!!! Review to come. Loved it!"
March 10, 2015 – Finished Reading
March 11, 2015 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)

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Linda Kage No one makes me bawl like Kristin Hannah can! She's brilliant.


message 2: by Honey (new) - added it

Honey Warren She is an AMAZING author!!! I can't wait to read this one!


message 3: by Honey (new) - added it

Honey Warren She is an AMAZING author!!! I can't wait to read this one!


Tanya (Girl Plus Books) I think I sobbed through the last 50 pages. A tough read, but so worth it.


Aestas Book Blog I am LOVING it!!!


Tara Can't wait to start this one!


Kiesha I just bought my copy. I can't wait to start!


message 8: by Sabrina (new) - added it

Sabrina Okay. I'm trusting you and slapping $13 for this digi. I don't usually spend that on kindles, but you have yet to steer me wrong.


Aestas Book Blog I'm 60% in now and loving it! Like I said, its different than my usual style of read because it has a love story in it, but that's not the sole focus of the book. But the writing is stunning, the story is powerful, and i'm totally captivated so I'm loving it!


message 10: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel I am so glad honey! I see your comment about it making you feel almost as much as The Bronze Horseman. I would have loved to read that series if not for my triggers, so I am hoping this one is safe so I can get something similar that's safe :D


message 11: by Sabrina (new) - added it

Sabrina Starting this as soon as I finish Bright Side. Looking forward to it!


message 12: by raji (new)

raji sanjeev nice


Vanessa Oooh, you had me at WWII!


message 14: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda I gotta tell you, I have never ever been able to read a historical novel, it just doesn't do it for me. But you and I were born with the exact same taste in books somehow and you've never steered me wrong before, so its officially next on my To-Read list!


message 15: by Aestas Book Blog (last edited Mar 10, 2015 09:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aestas Book Blog Amanda - check this one out. It's my #1 favorite book EVER: aestasbookblog.com/thebronzehorseman-...


message 16: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda I actually have that book on my Kindle already. I got it when you posted about it being on sale a little bit ago. I know you've posted about it being your favorite so I figured I would like it, but I haven't started it yet for the same reason. I really have liked probably every single book you've 5 starred or recommended so in my head I know I will like it, but I just haven't picked it up to read yet. This is my motivation to do it!! These are the next 2 books for me :) (Ok, after I read Confess by Colleen Hoover LOL)


Aestas Book Blog Definitely read TBH!!!! It's just.... beyond words! <3


Andrea (Dre) I love Kristen Hannah!! She is one of my favorite authors. You should definitely read Firefly Lane and Night Road when you get a chance.


message 19: by Laura (new)

Laura I haven't read her since Firefly Lane. Took me a long time to get over that book.


Tiffany If you haven't read Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, you really should. Winter Garden is another historical fiction book with similar feel to The Bronze Horseman.


message 21: by animalhouse (new)

animalhouse I've read the Winter Garden and enjoyed it, but The Bronze Horseman still remains my absolute #1 favorite. Based on your review, this sounds amazing. I know you loved TBH too, so how would you rate The Nightingale next to it?


Aestas Book Blog I don't actually rate any book "next to" The Bronze Horseman because I have TBH as my one and only 10 STAR. It's above and beyond for me and I don't have any other book/series in that rating category. As such, I dont compare books to it, because that's not fair.

The rest of my books, I rate out of 5 stars. And I give The Nightingale a solid 5 stars :) Hopefully that makes sense.


Vanessa I read TBH a long while back after seeing your review, and OMG. I have all the books in different covers and formats like a shrine on my bookshelf. lol. I'm so in love with the series and no other book has yet to touch it.


Aestas Book Blog that's exactly how i feel too!!


Amy Johnson I love Kristin Hannah!


message 26: by sue (new) - added it

sue I really need to bump this up my reading pile, I have heard so many good reviews about this


message 27: by Marina (new) - added it

Marina Clicked!!! Definitely just moved this one to the Top of my List! Those are some magic words..similar to TBH!


message 28: by AJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

AJ Wow! I'm definitely sold. Can't wait to get stuck into this!!! Amazing review, my friend!


message 29: by Miz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Miz You should add her book 'Home Front' to your read list in light of your review :)


Jennie Kristin, such a huge fan of you and your books. You have helped me through some hard times!! The Nightingale is truly one of the best written, emotionally driven works I have ever read. I have read that it is going to be a movie, I am so pumped. Would you be willing for some casting ideas? I've put a lot of thought into many of them!! Love your work, I anxiously await every book!!


Patty Holy WOW is right. At times, my eyes filled with tears. Other times, my usually stoic self sobbed. Thanks for putting into words my reaction to this powerful novel by a beautiful author. It must have taken great courage to write this powerful book.


Nancy I wasn't sure whether I could read this book because I feel that things are not going to end well for the characters in this sort of setting but I will now after your review. TBH trilogy are my favourite books of all time.


Aestas Book Blog Wow, sorry I missed all your comments guys!! So glad so many of you loved it! And I hope the rest of you give it a shot! It's such a beautiful story <3


Paula I too had a hard time doing anything else while reading this book. I loved it, and love your review of it.


Aestas Book Blog Thanks, Paula!!


message 36: by Laurette (new)

Laurette Long Great review, wonder if anyone managed to get through the book without being in floods of tears. The last time I sobbed and sniffed so much was after reading 'Me Before You' Jojo Moyes - am sure most of you will know that one!


Kevin McHugh I couldn't put it down. You can tell so much research went into this. Not an easy subject to write about or read about but it happened and it's important not to forget.


message 38: by Denise (new) - added it

Denise I'm now a fan of Kristin Hannah after reading The Nightingale and will read her other books.


message 39: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria Just bought this book yesterday really excited.


message 40: by Athira (new) - added it

Athira I love romance. I look up your review before I choose a romance book to read. you are such a an awesome reader and reviewer. I loved your review of TBH, so I 'm starting the TBH today! The I will definitely come back to TN! Thank you for your amazing reviews! Love you!


Kathy Kosek Great Book and great review. I couldn't agree more with what you said. I just finished and can't stop thinking about it. I will definitely put her name in my authors to read book list.


Aestas Book Blog Kathy wrote: "Great Book and great review. I couldn't agree more with what you said. I just finished and can't stop thinking about it. I will definitely put her name in my authors to read book list."

Athira wrote: "I love romance. I look up your review before I choose a romance book to read. you are such a an awesome reader and reviewer. I loved your review of TBH, so I 'm starting the TBH today! The I will d..."

Denise wrote: "I'm now a fan of Kristin Hannah after reading The Nightingale and will read her other books."

Kevin McHugh wrote: "I couldn't put it down. You can tell so much research went into this. Not an easy subject to write about or read about but it happened and it's important not to forget."

Laurette wrote: "Great review, wonder if anyone managed to get through the book without being in floods of tears. The last time I sobbed and sniffed so much was after reading 'Me Before You' Jojo Moyes - am sure mo..."

So glad you guy loved it!!!


Ramona Bryant I like that book


Kezia Wallace I am about half-way through and already agree wholeheartedly, some books are just so beautifully written. And when I was reading your review and you mentioned The Bronze Horseman I just thought 'yes'. It's one of my favourite books of all time and The Nightingale is similar (in a non-similar way). Speaking of books so beautifully written and set in the same era, I highly recommend 'All the light we cannot see' by Anthony Doerr.


Tricia Ann I was wondering about Gaetan and Isabelle at the end of this story. Thank you for clearing it up for me about Isabelle death, their daughter and Gaetans undying love for her.


Sumedha Love the review! I think this book was a good representation of war without being overly graphic.


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