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  • Writer's pictureAngela Barton

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Updated: May 17, 2018

The Nightingale book cover

Vianne Mauriac lives in the quiet village of Carriveau, in France. Vianne’s husband, Antoine, heads for the Front leaving her alone with her young daughter. She finds it implausible that the Nazis will invade France, so when the country is occupied and she is forced to take in a German soldier as a lodger, her life becomes one of fear and anxiety. However, it appears that this soldier has a conscience and occasionally supplies wood for the fire or food for the table. When he is replaced by a sadistic, high-ranking German who must share their house, life becomes so much worse for Vianne.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is eighteen, rebellious and trying to prove that’s she’s as capable as any man. With Paris overrun with Germans creating terror, Isabelle meets a compelling and intriguing partisan called Gäetan and falls in love with him. But he’s passionate about fighting for France and leaves to continue his fight alone. Feeling betrayed, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, seemingly unconcerned about the life-threatening situations she is placing herself in.

The author, Kristin Hannah, tells this epic story of WWII from women’s points of view. Women had to fight to save their children and their friends. They had to made decisions that could either mean execution or perhaps reducing their suffering to a small degree. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters at war – with each other and the enemy. They share the grief of losing their mother and anguish of seeing the psychological effects that war has had on their neglectful father, but they are also separated by their ideals and circumstances. Each sister embarks on her own treacherous path towards survival, love and freedom in German-occupied France. Kristin Hannah has written a powerful, thought-provoking novel showing how the ordinary woman faces danger and what they are prepared to endure in order to keep their loved-ones safe. This book tells of the resilience of the human spirit and of the mental strength of women.

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