It seems only fitting to review Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Set in occupied France during World War II, this novel follows two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne, who each contribute to fighting the Nazis in their own incredible ways. As the war progresses, they are faced with unimaginable challenges and react to them in ways that they each never thought they were capable of.
The Nightingale brilliantly captures the role women played during World War II and the blurred lines between good and evil and right and wrong. I am absolutely amazed by Hannah’s ability to create such a long, detailed, and complex novel that does not feel long-winded or unbearably dense. Furthermore, she does an exquisite job of setting the scene at each stage of the novel so the reader is completely transported to the realities of war torn France in the 1940’s.
The dynamic relationships that Hannah created between each of the characters is astounding and truly at the core of what made this novel so gripping. The mixture of love, frustration, and undying desire to protect each other that characterizes the the relationship between Isabelle and Vianne is perfectly sisterly. Moreover, the humanizing relationship that Vianne forms with Captain Beck demonstrates that we are all capable of compassion, which is an important lesson that transcends the confines of this story.
Ultimately, I was absolutely captivated by Hannah’s The Nightingale. While most stories set during World War II focus on the atrocities that took place at Auschwitz, Hannah reminds us just how many people were impacted by this horrible war and how incredibly strong women and children had to be. On a more personal note, this book couldn’t have come into my life at a more perfect time. At a time when my own country is going through a rather horrifying time, this story of survival, love, and compassion gave me hope.
5 out of 5 stars