“The Nightingale”

9780312577223_p0_v2_s114x166Kristin Hannah’s newest book “The Nightingale” is a love story–love between husband and wife, love between parents and their children, love between sisters, and love of one’s country.  Set in France during World War II, “The Nightingale” is a well-researched, emotional novel of how war affects women and what lengths they will go to save their families.  No one in this story escapes the pain and loss of war.

In 1939, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband as he heads to the front.  For the next six years, Vianne and her young daughter Sophie endure lack of food, lack of heat, loss of Vianne’s Jewish neighbors, and constant feelings of desperation.  Vianne must provide lodging for German officers–Captain Beck and then the brutal, sadistic Sturmbannfuhrer Von Richter.  Every move she and her neighbors make is closely watched by the occupying German forces.  But in spite of this constant fear, Vianne risks her life trying to save her best friend Rachel, her son Ari, and nineteen Jewish children.

While Vianne and Sophie struggle to survive at home, Isabelle, Vianne’s younger sister, joins the French Resistance.  At first, she delivers newspapers printed by the Free French, then she acts as a courier and ultimately, she leads downed Allied airmen across the Pyrennes into Spain.

Kristin Hannah has written a well-crafted, well-written novel.  From the very first page, I was drawn into the tragedy and bravery of these women.  Many years ago Beatrice Agnew told me about living in Europe during the war.  In the conversation she mentioned that her older sister worked for the Resistance.  As I read this compelling story, I couldn’t stopped thinking of Beatrice, her sister, and the brutality of war.   “The Nightingale.” is a moving testament to all who endured such brutality and hardship.

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