Wednesday, June 01, 2016

First Wednesday Book Review Club: THE NIGHTINGALE, Kristin Hannah

This is being written in a state of great jet lag so forgive any convoluted prose. (took me three tries to spell convoluted).

THE NIGHTINGALE takes place during World War 2 in France. It's the story of two sisters who spend little of the novel together, but nonetheless are called upon in ways peculiar to their personality to help in France's resistance to the Nazi occupation. Hannah does a great job of making the pages turn. The sisters are very different and separated by age, personality and place. Isabelle, the younger and more rebellious, immediately finds her way into to the resistance movement. Viane, a mother and wife, takes years to come to a belief that she must do something too.

The contrast between them was well done and well explained. The setting is excellent. The cast of characters is very satisfying.

If I were to find a flaw or two with the novel, small though they may be, it is that the sisters, both having had difficult childhoods, are a bit too noble, a bit too self-sacrificing, a bit too able to undertake successfully their difficult tasks. They seldom feel sorry for themselves.

Secondly, I felt we retread the same ground a bit too much. Two Nazis live with Viane for instance. One would have been enough.

However, these are small flaws in what is a very fine novel and well worth your time. By chance I took this book with me to Berlin and Poland and my trip to Auschwitz was made more real and more horrifying by the story I was reading.

For more reviews, see Barrie Summy. 

9 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

This does sound good, Patti! I like historical novels, and this sounds like a solid development of character, too.

George said...

Diane's book club liked THE NIGHTINGALE, too.

R. T. (Tim) Davis said...

Patti, thank you for providing such a succinct, insightful, and helpful review/posting. Since I have a passion for historical novels, I'll look for this title/author in my library when I visit this afternoon. Again, thanks. All the best from the Gulf Coast and Past Perfect Murders. Tim
http://pastperfectmurders.blogspot.com/2016/06/treasure-hunt-by-andrea-camilleri.html

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I read this and thought it was a very powerful and well-crafted novel, telling parts of the WWII story that I'd not read about before. Regarding your comment about the sisters...if I remember right, Isabelle took a bit of time to come into her nobleness. ;)

Barrie said...

I've heard great things about this book. How interesting that you were able to read it on your trip. Do you think the sisters' nobility was a sign of the times? That people were stepping up at that particular point in history? I was thinking the other day about Miep Gies, the woman who took food to the Franks, etc while they were in hiding. I was wondering if I had neighbors or friends who would take that kind of risk for me and my family. I don't know the answer. But perhaps I'd only know the answer if a situation arose that called for that kind of courage. Just rambling thoughts.... Thanks for reviewing!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well with the one sister, she would always seek out rebellious behavior. She wanted to be a hero.
For the other, she came around as she watched friends hauled off in plain sight. I do think some people stepped up but more didn't sadly. Many stood and watched without feeling much for their Jewish neighbors.

Stacy said...

Sounds like a good read. I have always meant to read Kristin Hannah, but have not picked up one of her books yet.

On another note, I just opened my Nicola's Books newsletter a few minutes ago and saw that you were listed as a local visiting author. Very cool!

Mathew Paust said...

No convolutions that I could find, and you just might have sold me on this novel. I like the idea.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I like the idea too!!!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!