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The Nightingale
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August 2018: Espionage > [Decathlon] The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah - 4*

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Elise (ellinou) The story of two French sisters in WWII. Vianne is a single mother in a quaint occupied village, whose house gets commandeered by the Nazis so she has to play hostess to a commander. 18-year-old Isabelle has always been more spontaneous, and throws herself headfirst into the Resistance, quickly becoming hunted by the Nazis.

With all the books I’ve read set in WWII, I think this was the first one prominently showing women’s role in the Resistance! It was a very nice read for that reason particularly. I enjoyed reading about Isabelle kicking ass, and Vianne quietly doing her part around the Germans living in her home.

I also appreciated that they showed that the world wasn’t black or white. There were evil Nazis, but we also saw some humanity in some characters. Same as we saw various characters on what is supposed to be the “good” side.

The one critique I have, and the reason I did not give this one five stars, is that I felt a disconnect with the French. I’ve read books written in English set in France (so where technically the characters were speaking French) before, and it felt organic, but here I kept being sort of drawn out of the story by this. See, I’m fluent in both, and as a translator my brain sometimes translates as I’m reading, and with this book once in a while I’d stop and think to myself, “wow, that would not translate well.”

For example, when Isabelle tells Gaëtan than her name is Rossignol, and he replies, “Nightingale.” This is clearly only necessary in English, since in French a rossignol is a nightingale, so he’s just literally repeating her own name back to her. I would have suggested he says “Nightingale, like the bird,” so Anglophones still get the translation and it actually sounds less dumb when said in French XD

Also, I seriously doubt the Resistance would have allowed her to have a code name that is a direct translation of her surname. Way too easy for the Germans to crack it and find her, in my opinion.

But apart from these minor issues–which are only issues for French speakers in the first place–, very worthy read.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Loved, loved, loved this book! Great review Ellie! I completely agree with the French as I also speak French. But for those who don't I'm sure it wasn't even an issue. I also agree with the code name. I noticed that right away when I read that. But overall a really great book. So glad you like it.


LibraryCin | 9055 comments Ellie wrote: "For example, when Isabelle tells Gaëtan than her name is Rossignol, and he replies, “Nightingale.” This is clearly only necessary in English, since in French a rossignol is a nightingale, so he’s just literally repeating her own name back to her. I would have suggested he says “Nightingale, like the bird,” so Anglophones still get the translation and it actually sounds less dumb when said in French XD..."

That is a really good point!


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6382 comments It was a 3-star read for me. Snippet from My Review:

It’s a compelling story, and I really liked having the action take place within the lives of these two women. However, at about the midpoint of the narrative, it took a turn towards a romantic melodrama that just really irritated me. And I thought the flashback “mystery” was entirely unnecessary and manipulative.


Elise (ellinou) I agree with you about the romance, it felt slightly unnecessary, but I didn't feel it was too overwhelming, like it never felt like the principal plot of the story, so it ended up not having much of an influence on my assessment of the book.


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