The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

If you’re a book snob like me, you might have passed over this one simply because EVERYONE has been talking about it.  I’m not one for hype, which is why I still haven’t forgiven Taco Bell for taking away their Mexican pizza, then bringing it back with such ridiculous fanfare.  And I still haven’t forgiven myself for waiting 20 minutes in the drive-thru only to learn that they ran out of Mexican pizza.  My love/hate relationship with Taco Bell aside, I will say that I began Hannah’s novel with a spicy attitude (as my kids would put it), but decided it was delicious by the time I reached the end.

The first strike against The Nightingale is the fact that it’s set during WW2.  It seems historical fiction cannot get enough of this time period, and though it shames me to say, lately, I’m finding the atrocities of the Holocaust and the horror of this war simply exhausting.  I’m a monster.  I know.  But while Hannah does justice to the experiences of the people who lived through this terror (or didn’t), she is able to do so without drowning her story in it. 

And speaking of her story…the second strike against The Nightingale is the fact that her plot is fairly predictable.  I can’t fault her too much for that, since by now we are all sadly familiar with the subject matter.  However, she is able to tell the story in a way that engages the reader, even when we can see what’s coming.  I might argue that it’s the story’s predictability that keeps us reading.  Even in the midst of recognizable plotlines, we still want to see these characters have their justice or revenge or reconciliation, which is a testament to a writer’s ability.  Which brings me to…

…the third strike against The Nightingale.  I was wrong about the book.  By the last few chapters, I ended up loving it.  I hate being wrong.

Read The Nightingale to learn about an incredible, lesser-known initiative led by freedom fighters of Nazi-occupied France.  Read it for some beautiful and devastating descriptions of the landscape of the country.  Read it to honor the bravery and sacrifices of a people who will forever be lost in history.  And read it if you, like me, have a sister (or sibling) with whom you have a love/hate relationship.  Settle on love.  Always.

(Here’s a pic of me and my sis. I’m the mostly bald one with the goofy grin 🙂

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3 Responses

  1. Nightingale is the best book I’ve read in years! I’m a huge fan of Kristin Hannah’s writing. My other favorite is Winter Garden. Great reads!

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