Tuesday, March 22, 2016

THE NIGHTINGALE






The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah, St Martin's Press, 2015, 440 pp
 
 
Summary from Goodreads:
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.
 
My Review:
Though this novel has been a huge bestseller and nearly everyone in the reading group I read it for was swooning in praise for it, I was underwhelmed. I would call it historical romance and in fact the author has been a romance writer for most of her career.
 
Dislikes: formulaic, somewhat manipulative emotionally, and a bit sketchy on the research.
 
I have read tons of WWII books, including novels that feature what it was like for the women at home. Most of them were better. And the ending? Please.
 
A big part of the story concerns the sister who took part in the resistance. No one has written better about the French resistance than Simone de Beauvoir, both in her 1945 novel The Blood of Others and in the second volume of her memoirs, The Prime of Life. She was there! She lived it personally, romantically with Sartre, and politically.
  
Liked: Because the writing was at approximately YA level, it was a fast read. I would not have wanted to spend any more time than I did (two days) reading this thing.
 
I also give her a nod for portraying the woman side of dealing with the Nazi rule in France.
 
Summary: An OK book for women who don't know much about WWII, particularly in France. All the Light We Cannot See is the better book because the writing is so superior.  
 
 
(The Nightingale is available in hardcover by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.) 

10 comments:

  1. In general, I don't like reading books about the World War II period. I made an exception for All the Light We Cannot See because my husband insisted that I would love it. I did. I guess I won't be making an exception for this one.

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    1. And I insisted my husband would like All the Light. He did! BTW, how do you get italics to work in the comments?

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  2. A balanced review, Judy. I have The Nightingale waiting for me on my TBR. Now I'm not sure I even want to read it.

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    1. Well, it is not horrid. Just disappointing to this literary snob -:)

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  3. Hello dear Juday! I don't like reading books about the World War II period...Wonderful review as usual. I wish you a fabulous Easter. It is sunny in Geneva yuppie hahaha. Hugs dear

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    1. I can understand that. I am pretty much over them myself.

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  4. This is one of those books I've wanted to try. I used to read all of her books and then hit one I didn't like and stopped. I loved All the Light You Cannot See.

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    1. Let me know how you liked it if you do. Welcome to Keep the Wisdom and thank you for visiting and commenting!

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  5. I too sort of see her as a romance writer so I didn't venture to this WWII book. Snobby perhaps, but there's too many books & little time, ha. I would like to read the titles of Simone's you mention (thanks!). What did you think of Suite Francaise by Nemirovsky or Sabastian Faulk's Birdsong & Charlotte Gray? Hmm. those are three I have liked that have touched on the Resistance.

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    1. The Simone books are so good! Suite Francaise and Birdsong were OK for me. I read them for reading groups. I have not read Charlotte Gray though I saw the movie and thought it was great. Authentic as far as the Resistance went. Suite Francaise was good on the exodus from Paris, I thought.

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