BookBrowse Reviews The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah X
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2015, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2017, 592 pages

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The Nightingale captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war.

Winner of the 2015 BookBrowse Fiction Award

BookBrowse readers were challenged and moved by Kristin Hannah's unique World War II novel, The Nightingale. Each and every one of our member reviewers rated it 4 or a 5 stars.

What makes the story of two sisters in Occupied France so different from other World War II novels? Why did our reviewers feel so connected to it?

Kristin Hannah has reached a new level with this strong and enduring cast of characters and themes. I would challenge anyone to read The Nightingale and not feel deeply moved by its message. I felt proud of these women, struggling to survive in times of war and wondered what I would do to save my family, my freedoms and all that I hold dear. Beyond that question looms another: "Do I have that deep core of bravery so desperately needed in the darkest of hours?" Relevant today and always, this story will stay with me a long time. It has my strongest recommendation (Virginia W). The Nightingale is easily the best book I have read in a very long time. I became a woman in occupied France and steeled myself as each new horrible circumstance confronted me (Nancy L). This is a story of love and sacrifice during the horror of the German occupation of France. It is a story of love - particular of family - and how sad and beautiful it can be (Marjorie W). This is a very special book! (Cam G)

Our readers felt that Kristin Hannah's focus on women during World War II was unique:

The Nightingale is about two sisters who lived in France during World War II, and weaves back and forth through time, with most of the emphasis in the '40s during the war. I have read many World War II books but few that place special emphasis on the heroism and courage of women fighting the war in their own ways (Colleen L). Kristin Hannah is known for her contemporary fiction so I was blown away by this meticulously researched work of historical fiction set in France during WWII. It speaks to the strengths of women who were willing to put their lives on the line because it was the right thing to do (Lisa G). Hold the phone, cancel appointments and have some tissues handy for a well-researched novel of the very disturbing years of Nazi occupied France. It is not only about the occupation, but about the brave women who risked their lives and lives of their families to save strangers (Kathy G).

And her take on the Holocaust novel genre is unique as well:

I was skeptical that The Nightingale was yet another novel about the Holocaust, but do yourself a favor and read this one. The characters are so richly developed that the reader can't help but keep turning the pages! (Diane D) A wonderfully told story, totally engaging - and the saddest part is that even if it is fiction, we know too well the awful truth of what happened, and that the author has embedded that truth in this novel (Arden A). Hannah was particularly good at introducing lesser known historical events from World War II: the exodus from Paris, the Vichy collaboration with the Nazi's, the betrayal of the Parisians by the French Police, the events at the Velodrome d'Hiver (see "beyond the book"), retaliation against French resistance, and the dangers of the Pyrenees escape routes (Sherilyn R).

Our readers found the story to be relevant to today:

In these days of beheadings and innocents caught up in war zones, this is an essential book to read. Kristen Hannah's The Nightingale transcends the pages of historical fiction and poses the question, "When evil is everywhere around you, what would you do?" (Gwen C) A well-written book that helps us remember this period of history and all the extremes people went through. It is important to remember the contributions of the women of that time. Reflecting on my life makes me realize how much I have taken for granted (Sandra C). A thank you to Kristin Hannah for this awesome book written not a moment too soon - as so few people who will recognize the truth in it are left. May this story keep their experiences alive even longer. Memories matter. Love lasts. We remain. What a brilliant message (Lesley F).

And they wholeheartedly recommend The Nightingale:

I would heartily recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction. It is well-researched and presents a solid look at the French Resistance (Colleen L). I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and to others who enjoy a book that promises to captivate! (Frances B) I have read many books about World War II - fiction and non-fiction - but never anything like this. The sense of place, the relationships between the women, their children and the German soldiers in the town make this a story you will remember for a long time. I recommend it for a different perspective on the toll of war (Eve A). I recommend The Nightingale if you like sister stories, France, romance and history (Barbara Z). Everyone – everyone – needs to read this book, to get into the parts of the characters, and try to feel just an iota of what they felt during this time in their lives (Annie P).

This review was originally published in February 2015, and has been updated for the April 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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