Genre : Adult, Historical Fiction
Goodreads Synopsis :
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.
My Review :
I initially thought going into this book that it was going to be more of a romance rather than a true historical fiction and boy, was I wrong. While there is two minor love stories, they are ultimately put on the back burner of the plot. I loved this aspect of The Nightingale because it really focused on history and above all, feminism. Two things that I absolutely love reading about. This was an interesting take on World War 2, as I’ve never read anything about France’s involvement. Once all the men were sent off to fight in the war, all of the women and children were left behind. While reading this we really got to see what struggles those people still living in an occupied France were going through, needless to say it was horrific.
The first 100 pages or so of this book felt extremely rushed. I was truly discouraged at this point but I pressed on and I became completely engrossed in the novel. We follow first and foremost, Vianne, a married woman whose husband is off at war and she is left to take care of her daughter and their home. It seems simple enough but when a German soldier claims his stake on their house and moves in it becomes a lot more complicated. Vianne in much of the book wanted to turn a blind eye to the politics and wholeheartedly believed that their French soldiers would keep the war away from their home. Unfortunately as time moves on, Vianne realizes this is not the case and she must do everything she can to protect her family, her friends, and eventually even strangers. I really enjoyed watching Vianne grow as a woman and as a warrior in her own way. Even though in the beginning of the book Vianne was unable to keep her sister Isabelle under control and they were consistently fighting, you could really see her motherly instincts and regret over it. Vianne felt human in a way that most characters in novels do not.
Moving onto Isabelle, the wild child, I couldn’t have been more obsessed with her journey. Isabelle starts out as a young woman, a teenager to be exact, who just wants the attention and love of her father who has shunned her from his life ever since his wife passed away. Isabelle meets a young man on her way to her sisters home in France because Paris is no longer safe, and from there we get a very short love story, as he abruptly abandons her when they arrive at their destination. From here on out Isabelle is completely engrossed in becoming a member of the French Resistance and fighting for her country in the best way that she can. This starts off as her delivering ‘terrorist’ newspapers to keep her neighborhood informed on what was truly happening in the war, and not what the Nazis occupying their city is telling them. From there, Isabelle hops a train to Paris and becomes ‘The Nightingale’. What this means without any spoilers is she risks her life day in and day out to fight her own little piece of the war.
At the end of this book I was sobbing, I was proud, I was heartbroken, I was more educated, and I was satisfied. I was excited to see after finishing that The Nightingale is being made into a move. (Please give us Emma Watson as Isabelle). I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future.