Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Nightingale: A Book To Keep

Combining history and the stories of two sisters doing what is necessary to survive the horrors of war, The Nightingale held me in its grip from first chapter to the last.  It still does.

As Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale begins,  an elderly woman is packing to leave her home of fifty years to move to an assisted living facility. She opens her old trunk and retrieves an identification card - "Juliette Gervais". Insisting that her son permit her to take the old trunk with her, the woman allows herself to remember her past life during the years of the Nazi occupation of France. Most of the rest of the story is a flashback as the Nazi's take first Paris and then the French countryside.

As young women, the two Rosingal sisters are very different from each other: "...Viann the rule follower and Isabelle the rebel ...".  Eventually though, reality shatters Viann's complacency as she and her children face starvation and her best friend Rachel, a Jew, is captured by the Nazis. Impetuous Isabelle is deeply involved with the underground and aids downed Allied fliers as they evade the Nazis by leading them over the Alps to Spain on foot, a harrowing hike that she makes  over 26 times during the course of the war.  Known as "The Nightingale", she is wanted by the Nazis and faces death should she be captured.
The hardships faced by the members of the French Resistance and by those who risked it all to help others targeted by the Nazi occupiers are a grim reminder of the realities of World War II. The novel focuses on the strength of family, the sacrifices individuals made for their love of humanity, and the courage of those who resisted the brutality of mad men.  The emotional impact of "The Nightingale" is significant, especially at the end when the story returns to the old woman and her son, and the one last secret she is determined to keep.

It was very late when I finally closed this book. The house was quiet. I had to just sit still, hold back the tears, and reflect for awhile on man's inhumanity to man, the meaning of courage, and the sacrifices made by "the Greatest Generation" to make the world better for my generation and those to follow. This book is beautifully written and the stories of the two very different sisters, and what they did to survive, will stay with you long after you have read the final page.

what matters
Photo courtesy of;  Quote from The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Yours in books,


  1. Cheryl, I recently read this book and I also was moved by it. Such a great story and so much sacrifice and courage. Good review!

  2. I'll look for it. I think this is the same way I felt after seeing Schindler's List.

  3. I am pinning this book onto my Reading board on Pinterest so I will add it to my list.

    Thanks for the review.

  4. I love her books! This one is on my list to read but I really enjoyed Winter Garden by her as well.
    Joy @ Books and Life


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