Review: “The Knightingale” by Kristin Hannah


“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

A great piece of Historical fiction set in France during the Nazi occupation. The story revolves around two sisters, separated by years and by ideals, but both fighting the evils of an oppressive era in French history. It is 1939 and in the French village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband who heads to the front to repel the Germans. No match for the Nazi’s war machine, France is soon brought to its knees. When Paris is overrun, Vianne’s father sends Isabella, Vianne’s rebellious 18 year old sister to the apparent safety of the Country. Caught in the mass exodus of Paris, Isabella is forced to walk most of the way to Carriveau. On the way she meets Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French must keep up the fight. Unbeknownst to her sister, Isabelle joins the French Resistance. Vianne fears for her unpredictable sister, but does what she can to keep her and her daughter Sophie safe. As rationing, restrictions and ethnic cleansing intensifies each sister, in her own way, fights for France even as they fight for their own and their families survival. Told through the eyes of these women, Kristin Hannah captures the ravages of war, the moral questions one must face, the resilience of family, and the difference heroic acts can portend for the future generations. A riveting account of what life must have been like for the French people during the 5+ years of German occupation.

It seems to be the year of books representative of occupied France. Two in the top ten, The Nightingale and “All the Light We Cannot See”. Both great reads, but, if I were to pick one, well of course I wouldn’t pick just one, but I would recommend putting “Nightingale” at the top of the stack.

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Janet is the owner of The muse book shop.