52 Good Books

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This is a story of life and ordinary people who become extraordinary during the war. This book is chock-a-block a block with emotion: pain and love, rebellion and fear, brutality and compassion. Surely nobody could live through a war like this… And yet…

The Nightingale is the second book I have read by Kristin Hannah and it is all consuming. As with the last one Auntie M loaned me this book when she realised how much I loved The Great Alone and it has surpassed all expectation. The Nightingale hooked me from the start but just got more and more intense as it continued. By the end I was turning pages giddy with emotion. There was even a bit towards the end where I actually got a bit teary! This has never happened to me with a book before. Never. If you read the book you’ll know which bit it was! The whole thing came out of left-field really, since I always thought I didn’t like books about the war, but this one was told from such a human angle that I was totally captivated by it.

Isabelle Rosinol has been told she is impetuous all her life. She detests authority and has spent most of her short eighteen years being passed from pillar to post. Her sister Vianne is happily married with a young daughter. When war strikes both of these women’s lives are turned upside down. Isabelle is sent to live with her sister whose husband goes out to war, but Isabelle has never been one to just do as she’s told. She struggles with towing the line in the face of German atrocities in occupied France. For her part Vianne struggles in trying to keep her household together and provide for her young daughter. Her worries are quotidian and all consuming. Food, heating, clothes, medicine. She cannot escape them. Will these sister prove strong enough to survive the hardships of wartime?

Hannah paints a stark picture of life in occupied France. Her strength is in the descriptive quality of her writing. Personally I don’t enjoy description too much but Hannah sneaks this into the story in such a way that you don’t even realise it is happening. That is how good she is.

If you are searching for a truly human story then prepare yourself for an emotional trip and pick up this book. It will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

Next week I will be reading a book that has been on my list for an age, My Absolute Darling by Gabrielle Talent will be on the blog next Monday. Come join me next week to fins out more.

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