Jennifer Lane's Reviews > The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
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it was amazing
bookshelves: book-club, men-in-uniform, prison, politics, sob-fest, wounded-hero

French Family Fights the Nazis

The bond between sisters is hard to break, but World War II almost destroys French sisters Vianne and Isabelle. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption illuminates the war in the Pacific Theater, whereas The Nightingale tells the underrepresented plight of women in the war.

The story begins in 1939 when Vianne is in her late 20s and Isabelle is 18. Their mother died young and their father turned into a bitter, distant man after fighting in WWI. Isabelle feels hurt by Vianne not being there for her. Instead, Vianne is devoted to her husband and daughter.

But when war breaks out, Vianne's husband leaves to fight the Germans. She does everything to protect her daughter, including tolerating the German officer who billets in her home. Feisty Isabelle, on the other hand, witnesses Nazi horrors early on and joins a secret resistance.

Dang, these women are strong. What they endure makes problems in my cushy life seem so petty. The characterization is top notch. The sisters have such distinct personalities, and even though their styles clash, you can feel the love between them. In their own way, they help countless downed pilots and Jewish orphans.

Their relationship with their father is so complicated and real that it made me cry.

When elderly Vianne's son discovers his mother had a history he never knew about, he says:

"I know there's something you want to tell me and whatever it is, it's hard for you. Just start at the beginning."

Vianne's reaction:

I can't help smiling at that. He is such an American, this son of mine. He thinks one's life can be distilled to a narrative that has a beginning and end. He knows nothing about the kind of sacrifice that, once made, can never be either fully forgotten or fully borne. And how could he? I have protected him from all of that.

As an American, I believe I can never know what it was like to live through such horrors, such fight for survival. But Ms. Hannah has indeed created a narrative of sacrifice and love with a beautiful beginning and a bittersweet end.
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Quotes Jennifer Liked

Kristin Hannah
“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah
“Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.”
Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah
“I know that grief, like regret, settles into our DNA and remains forever a part of us.”
Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah
“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.”
Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale


Reading Progress

May 19, 2016 – Started Reading
May 19, 2016 – Shelved
May 19, 2016 –
page 100
22.73%
May 21, 2016 –
page 303
68.86% "Stayed up late reading this last night. So good!"
May 24, 2016 – Shelved as: book-club
May 24, 2016 – Shelved as: men-in-uniform
May 24, 2016 – Shelved as: prison
May 24, 2016 – Shelved as: politics
May 24, 2016 – Shelved as: sob-fest
May 24, 2016 – Shelved as: wounded-hero
May 24, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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Aleasha Beautiful review :)


Jennifer Lane Thank you, Aleasha!


GraceMyBookSnack Lovely review, Jen!


Jennifer Lane Aw thanks, Grace!


Jennifer Garcia What a great review!! I'll have to bump this up on my list. I recently read The Lost Wife and sobbed so hard at the details of what a family went through during WWII. Like you said, we can never know no matter how much we learned about it in school or hear about it, etc... But to read details as if we're there... I know it's still not even an iota of what they really felt. It's so heartbreaking.


Jennifer Lane Thank you, Jennifer! I haven't read The Lost Wife but I'll add it to my shelf. I love tearjerkers. Happy reading and writing!


Karla Dang, these women are strong. What they endure makes problems in my cushy life seem so petty.

Well said Jennifer! A lot of people could take a lesson from them. Although these characters are fictional I'm sure it was the reality for all too many women living in France at that time.


Jennifer Lane Have you seen Wonder Woman, Karla? Your comment about strong women during WWII brought that to mind. I really enjoyed the film.


Karla No...I'll watch it when I can rent it and watch it in the comfort of my home.


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