I am happy to be introducing Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books, who will be reviewing The Nightingale! I have this on my kindle, and I really cannot wait to read it! Also as a reminder, you can comment on this post, follow Cynthia via Twitter and Bloglovin, and have that all count towards entries in the event's giveaway!
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
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.
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I am a huge fan of books set during WWII. WWII was such an awful period of history and I can’t imagine what some of those people went through. But as horrifying as many of the WWII stories are, I think that the main reason I love them is because there is always some measure of hope and survival and bravery. Amidst this dictator who wiped out millions of people, there are still people who made it through and who risked their lives to take down the enemy. I enjoy reading WWII books about different people or different events that you don’t normally hear about. The mark of a great author is one who makes you want to pick up a book and read more information about the subject they are writing about.
The Nightingale has all of that and so much more. This is the story of two sisters (Isabelle and Vianne) who are trying to survive the war and Germany's invasion of France. Isabelle risks her life time and time again to help with the French Resistance. Isabelle is eighteen years old and headstrong and she is determined to help with the war effort, despite the fact that everyone (her sister included) tell her that there is nothing an eighteen year old girl can do to help. I loved how determined Isabelle was. She risked her life for the war effort. She started as a spy who issued damning pamphlets against the Nazis. But soon, she wanted to do more and that’s when she started helping airmen escape from France into Spain. This part of the book was based on the true story of a Belgian woman who helped downed Allied airmen escape from Nazi capture by leading them over the Pyrenees mountains in France. Kristin Hannah managed to perfectly capture the danger of the mountains and the fear Isabelle and the airmen and everyone helping them felt every time they crossed that mountain. The hikes were long and arduous and they had very little food, but they did it. Isabelle faced sexism from airmen who didn’t want to follow a girl, but the fact that people had a tendency to underestimate women meant that she was not a suspect. None of the enemy’s soldiers suspected her simply because she was a girl and I loved that.
Vianne is probably the character that went through the most character development. At the beginning of the book, Vianne is living in a very small village outside of Paris with her husband and young daughter. Vianne and her husband are both devastated when he is called to war and they hope the war won’t last long so that he can come home. Vianne has never really been on her own before. She was raised by a distant father and married very young. There are countless times where she mentions just wanting her husband home so he can fix things. She isn’t sure what to do on her own and she just wants to survive until he can come home. At the beginning of the book, she seems very weak. This is annoying, but is somewhat realistic of attitudes at the time. Eventually, she is forced to house a Nazi soldiers and she starts to see the world for what it is. She starts out as this very naïve housewife, but she commits so many brave acts and confronts danger head on. She becomes just as brave as her sister.
Both sisters are so different, but both women save lives during the war and they do it with no thought to their own lives and with no desire for recognition. Because this is a book about war, it isn't pretty or happy. There were so many times that I gasped out loud or bit my nails in suspense. No character was safe in this book and happy endings are all relative. Like many other WWII books, this one had me sobbing at so many points during the book. There was so much despair and sacrifice and horrible decisions to be made, but there was also hope and perseverance. Not many WWII books focus on what women went through during this war or the many ways that women helped to fight the enemy even though they were not in combat. If you enjoy WWII books, I know you will love this one.