• Noha Badawi

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

How do I even begin to talk about this book? I finished this book with my emotions all over the place, tears running down my face and my heart swelling with joy, sadness, heartbreak and content all at the same time.

I’ve heard nothing but great things about this story; and being into historical fiction, I thought I’ll pick it up right in the correct moment. These stories always transport me in time, put me in this state of mind where I feel myself living with the characters in their era and situation and it ends up being this grand experience that impacts my life, persona and all my being.

#TheNightingale is that kind of book.

France, 1939 In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another. 

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah,  St. Martin’s Griffin, February 3rd 2015, Paperback, ISBN: 9781250080400, Rating: ★★★★★, 564 pages.

“But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.” 

As far as historical fictions go; the nightingale is by far one of the best representations for what France & the French suffered in WWII at the hands of Nazis. It’s chilling.

This book portrays the war between humanity and lack of it; families torn, children lost, siblings fighting, towns blasted and survival getting harder than ever. I loved how this book was written in a buildup method, a narrative that gives you a glimpse that there’s more to come, a crescendo building up and you witness its explosion in tears. As heartbreaking the story is, the characters are nothing short of amazing. Vianne and Isabelle are both different sides to the same coin; fighting the same war and battles, each in her own way at her own capacities.

“Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.” 

With Vianne‘s story, we witness the war from a mother’s side. A wife devastated at the separation with her husband, dying with worry that he’s at the frontline fighting a war he had no hands in initiating. A mother worrying for her daughter growing up amidst this devastation. A French woman who walk up one day and found her entire life turned upside down, her home invaded, her best friend deported and her job taking away from her and her sister fighting for her life. I loved Vianne by half of the book, at first she came off as a neutral person, not choosing any side and indecisive. But how wrong was I? She came out to be one of the strongest female characters ever, the toughest and most selfless. A woman with so much in her heart who gave too much to keep her family and others safe as much as safe can go.

“Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.” 

Isabelle‘s character on the other hand was bold, fierce, comes off as fearless but she was most scared for other’s lives. She saved so many and sacrificed a lot and my heart almost gave out at the heartbreak I felt for her story.

Some scenes scared the living shit out of me, and others had me cringing and weeping at the despair and injustice of it all. This book is beyond beautiful, and that word doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s the kind of beauty that breaks your heart into a million pieces and fill your soul with this adventure.

If you didn’t have this book on your list already, please you must add it because it is so darn worth it.



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