Reader reviews and comments on The Nightingale, plus links to write your own review.

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The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah

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

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Power Reviewer Colleen L. (Casco, ME)

What would You do to Survive?
The Nightingale is Hannah's latest book due to be published in February 2015. As with all her other books, if I could rate it higher I would. The book is about two sisters who lived in France during World War II. The book opens in current day when one sister receives an invitation to travel back to France for a special celebration. It becomes clear early on that her son, Julian, does not know much of her earlier life during the War. The story weaves back and forth through time with most of the emphasis in the 40's during the War.

Hannah writes beautifully in this book. She has a way of writing that simply transports you there into the story. The characters are real and you experience the same fear, anguish and hurt as they do. This story is told from a woman's perspective which greatly added to the story line. 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. The book builds suspense gradually. When I reached Chapter 32, my nerves were taut. Everyone knows the history of World War II but the reader is praying that the inevitable will not happen here. The author does an excellent job with her series of surprise events that ultimately occur.

I would heartily recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction. The book was well researched and presents a solid look at the French Resistance. I urge you to keep tissues handy for the ending, however. Hannah does not fail to touch your heart.
Virginia W. (Chapel Hill, NC)

Outstanding new Kristin Hannah story
I have been a fan of Kristin Hannah for a long time and have read most of her books. Given that, I was very happy to be selected to read her latest book, and to put it simply, I just devoured this story. Kristin Hannah has reached a new level with this strong and enduring cast of characters and themes.I would challenge anyone to read this book and not feel deeply moved by it's message. I felt proud of these women, struggling to survive in times of war and wondered "what would I 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.
Kristine M. (Marion, IL)

Powerful WWII Novel
I have read a number of WWII novels and The Nightingale is one of the most powerful stories of the group. It comes close to one of my favorite WWII novels, Jenna Blum's 'Those Who Save Us'. The novel seemed to start slowly for me and the writing made me feel as if it were written for a younger audience. But as the story progressed, the horrors of war were not sugar coated. This is not a novel for kids. As horrific as some of the things the sisters went through were, I know there were millions who suffered far worse. I found myself drawn into the lives of the two sisters and was amazed at their endurance and bravery. Through the many plot twists I kept wondering what I would have done had I been in their situations. This book will stay with you for a long time, and I imagine it will be a wonderful discussion book for reading groups.
Barbara (Cherry Hill, NJ)

Women in WWII
I've never read a Kristin Hannah book, but a few are on my 'want to read' list.
It was easy to read 100 or more pages of this book in an evening. I've read many WWII books. This story about two non-Jewish sisters surviving occupied France was interesting. The book builds from spring 1995 back to 1939 and the back stories of characters and life before the war and the progressive harrowing changes in everyday life. It primarily focuses on women's roles during the war as mothers, teachers, businesses and the resistance movement. It also highlights life as war progressed from Occupied zones and Free Zones of France to total occupation. Loose ends are tied up in last 40 pages with Kleenex box ending.
I recommend, if you like sister stories, France, romance and history.
Esther L. (Newtown, PA)

France Under The German Occupation
This book falls under what I call "Holocaust Light", but the more involved I got in the story the more I enjoyed it. Taking place in France under Germany's occupation it was a different view of the time during World War 2. Bravery, daring as well as desolation were all a part of the story. The character development was generally good except that it was frustrating to have part of the story narrated by one of the key protagonists 50 years later now living in America but to never be told how she had ended up there and what had happened in the intervening years. Over all, well done.
Lucy B. (Urbana, OH)

The Nightingale
The book begins in 1995 and then jumps back to 1939 to tell of happenings in France prior to and during World War II. Sisters Isabelle and Viann have many anxious moments, problems, etc. and the author keeps the reader engaged as their stories unfold and other characters are brought into the novel. The book tells of feelings and situations, such as despair, ugliness, survival, death, pain, loss, fear, anger, love, shame, horror, secrets, murder, hopelessness, bravery, hunger, tragedy, endurance, memories, heroism, miracles, joy, regret, grief, heartache, sadness. I'm amazed at how much a person can endure and still survive Good read.
Julia E. (Atlanta, GA)

WWII France Frames This Classy Chick Lit Tale
As with most of her best-selling novels, Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale focuses on the intricacies of family relationships. Here, she has set her fast paced tale during the very bleak years of the Nazi Occupation of France (1940-45). Little surprise then that the plucky, head-strong sister joins the Resistance, while the conservative one takes longer to find her niche in the fight. Conforming to genre norms, the plucky one is fearless, her love interest has gray-green eyes, and eventually all family misunderstandings are are exposed and forgiven. Well-researched and smoothly written, Nightingale is a great companion for a rainy mid-winter afternoon.

A formulaic "historical" romance novel in a WWII setting, fraught with overwrought sentimentality and shocking scenarios, as well as historical inaccuracies to keep the reader turning pages. Writing style is high school level...not for the reader to wants a challenging thought-provoking read.

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