The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I read a paper by a student and her analysis and description of this book drew me into the story, so much that I purchased the book right away. World War II, 1939, France is the beginning setting of the narrator’s memories.
Vianne watches her husband Antoine leave for war with a terrified heart. She recalls the state of the World War I soldiers when they returned home and she doesn’t want these men to go through the horrors of war too, as her father did. Vianne and her daughter Sophie return home. Vianne’s eighteen-year-old younger sister, Isabelle, is sent away by their father, to live with Vianne. Vianne has always been a rule follower and Isabelle has always been a rebel. When a German soldier is sent by authorities to live in their home, Vianne frustratingly complies and Isabelle can hardly contain her anger. Vianne sacrifices everything she can to keep her daughter Sophie as safe and healthy as possible. Isabelle is discovered by the resistance and decides that she will do everything in her power to help them, so she moves back to Paris and is known as The Nightingale because of her covert activities. Meanwhile, Vianne tries to help her neighbor and best friend, Rachel, to run to a safe zone. Rachel takes her sleeping baby Ari in a wheelbarrow and her daughter Sarah walks next to her with Vianne. When they reach trees by the checkpoint barrier, Vianne watches Rachel and her children walk to the queue. Almost immediately, a machine gun sprays the crowd with bullets. Rachel runs with her children back to the trees but her young daughter Sarah gets riddled with bullets across her chest. The horror of the French government turning on their Jewish people who have husbands fighting in the war and are prisoners of war is too terrible to grasp but add the slaughter of innocent children and other family members to that and it’s a completely unfathomable nightmare that truly happened less than 80 years ago! The details of the struggles, loss, torture, love and sacrifice make this book a true historical fiction classic for the ages! The Nightingale continues to tell the story of the two sisters and both of their World War II ordeals. I absolutely love this book! Great character growth and strength and the resilience of the human spirit is awe-inspiring! 5 stars!