The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah

by Kate Hareng

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
Set in occupied France during World War II, this is a story of the very different ways that two sisters survive the dangers of their war torn country. The strongest and most central characters are women, all dealing at some point with heartbreak, brutality, love and struggling for survival, all going against the stereotype of the day.

Isabelle is told that women do not go to war, while Vianne suddenly finds herself the provider, no longer having a husband to rely on. Isabelle is impulsive, rebellious and passionate about freeing France from the occupiers while Vianne is accepting and conformist, convinced that surrender to the Germans is the way to survive.

In their different ways, they are both strong women in the face of adversity.

Vianne tells her son…. “men tell stories…women get on with it.”

The story was apparently inspired by the story of Belgian woman, Andrée de Jongh, who helped downed Allied pilots to escape the Nazis

From Paris, to the provinces  and on to the death camps of the Nazi regime, this book kept me turning the pages. In fact, I even admit to getting a little choked towards the end. See what you think.

and by Gillian Golborne

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

I was drawn to this book after reading All the Light We Cannot See, but actually preferred this book. I enjoyed reading how, these two sisters, who were very different in temperament, dealt with each situation in their own way. But they were always loyal to each other, right to the end. I couldn’t put the book down.

Find out more about the true events that inspired this incredible story here.

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