The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah, is a novel that you will long remember after you’ve finished the last page.
Kristen Hannah is not an author with whom I was familiar, and I probably wouldn’t have found this book without the help of my book club.
When I picked up The Nightingale, I was expecting a romantic story, and romance is certainly a part of this tale; but it is so much more.
The tale begins slowly, and somewhat predictably sweet, as a family in the French countryside shares picnics of bread and cheese in flower-laden gardens. My first impression was, “No, this book is too cliché, I’m unlikely to gain any insights from this writing.”
I was so wrong. A year and a half later, I recall the darkness of the story; and the bright redemption. The heroism and strength of the female characters inspires.
Twists and turns in the story, suspense, and scenes of human misery put the bucolic opening scenes of pre-WWII France in the distant memory.
No doubt, this is the author’s intention. We see how dramatically the war changed life for everyone, forever.
The main characters are sisters who face life with very different outlooks.
And, yet, these sisters show the same backbone, the same instinct to protect human life, and the same reverence for that life.
We see the struggle among family members who have various allegiances and attitudes in occupied France. How much is a person willing to sacrifice to save family? What about total strangers?
The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah, speaks to a new generation that has never actually experienced its setting. It reveals human incongruities to destroy and preserve; to condemn and cherish; to fear and to defy.
And yet it ends as a story of redemption and hope.
Those are sentiments we always welcome, no matter the era.
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