The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

The Nightingale

9780312577223

It was recommended that because I love historical fiction I read The Nightingale (B) by Kristin Hannah. As such, it begs the question, “how many books on the same subject can be written and still be interesting?” I felt at times that I was re-reading Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky or Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. The Nightingale was extremely similar to both stories.

We find the Rossignol (which in French means nightingale) sisters in France during 1939 preparing for war and all it’s ramifications. Having difficult childhoods due to the death of their beloved mother, they now must face the demons that continually threaten to destroy their relationship. Vianne is married to her childhood sweetheart and lives in the countryside with her husband and daughter. She feels confident that they will remain safe and protected from war. Isabelle lives in Paris where the realities of war are evident. Always the feisty defiant one, she is prepared to take action and become part of the battle.

As the novel progresses, Isabelle behaves as expected and becomes a very active member of the French underground risking her life for others and the country she loves. Vianne’s actions are no less risky as she rises to the occasion and through self-discovery becomes a force of her own.

Hannah’s writing is true to her style. The novel is easy to follow and the characters are well developed and engaging. My problem, as I stated before, is that it just didn’t bring anything new to the table. Perhaps I expect too much or maybe this is as good as it gets when a subject is repeatedly written about. I do recommend The Nightingale for those that are not as critical as I am. It is a decent story that will satisfy those that haven’t read many World War II novels.

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