The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah Book Review

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The synopsis on the back of the book:
With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France—a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Published: 04/2017
  • Pages: 423
Love shows us the ideal versions of ourselves, but war shows us the reality of what we can go through.
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The story follows two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne and their experiences during World War II in Occupied France. Isabelle and Vianne do not have the best relationship and often butt heads in the book. Particularly because Isabelle has a rebellious streak and a sharp tongue. Vianne is married to Antoine and has a child named Sophie. So it goes to say that Vianne is shown to be the more "responsible" sister. And this causes a rift between Vianne and Isabelle throughout the story.

Isabelle being the rebellious type joins the resistance in France to help save France from the German's. Vianne's husband Antoine has to leave the family to fight for France, thus leaving her and Sophie all alone. When the German's take over their hometown a captain requisitions their home and billits with them. Therefore, they must live and get along with the enemy.

First Initial thoughts:

The story picked up really quick and Kristin did a good job of keeping the reader entertained. I also really felt for the characters right from the start, and she did a great job developing the characters. That is one thing I am picky about in books. 

Isabelle annoyed the heck out of me at first. I think I am more like Vianne now that I am older but 10 years ago I could see myself being more like Isabelle. Often I kept thinking, that she needed to be more mindful of what she was saying and doing. Especially during a time when you didn't want to mess with the Nazi's. 

My initial thoughts on Vianne was that she was a quiet introverted type who loved to teach and garden. I think she truly loved her sister, Isabelle, but had a hard time showing it due to circumstances in the story. I often wanted her to be more caring at times towards her sister, but I could also see her side of the story as well. So it was a tough situation. 

Vianne and Isabelle's father, Julian, at the beginning was a father not to be liked. He is a minor character in the novel but plays an important role later on. Their father abandoned Vianne and Isabelle when they were just children when their mother died. This made me really feel for the sisters because they really only had each other. 


Kristin did a fantastic job creating the world of occupied France. From the countryside of Carriveau to the streets of Paris, she did an amazing job recreating a world that once existed. I really could imagine myself there, experiencing the story along with the characters. I often felt for them and the hardships that they experienced. 

Final Thoughts: 

All the feels. ALL THE FEELS GUYS. This book was an emotional roller coaster. As with most World War II books, there is a sense of sadness and deprivation. We can't imagine what it was like for the French to endure such an occupation by people they barely knew or understand. Having to barely survive on ration cards and basic necessities, to be scared of being executed for the slightest infraction is a world I can't even fathom. 

Isabelle really surprised me by the end of the book. She really grew as a character and as a woman. I think that is because she experienced war first hand and what it really does to a man. Her tenacity and dedication to the resistance throughout the story is something to be admired at. She never gave up and strived to survive. 

Vianne grew tremendously as well. She did almost anything to keep her child alive and safe during World War II including almost starving herself. She was admirable that was for sure. Her love for Antoine never faded and she often yearned for him. Her and Isabelle also grew closer as the story ended. They grew together as sisters and best friends. I really liked that because it was hard to read two family members butting heads over something that happened many years ago that should have been forgiven. 

Julien, their father really grew on me as the story continued. I won't give too much detail, as I don't want to spoil the book, but let's just say he won the Dad of the year award for me. 


The ending was very good. Let's just say that you are both happy and sad at the end. I think the book was the perfect length. Not too long or too short. It ended with a satisfaction but still yearning to know more, which I think is an indicator of a good novel. 

Would I Recommend? 

Definitely! I absolutely enjoyed the book, even though it made me slightly depressed! I would definitely recommend it, especially to anyone who has a sister. :) 

I hope you enjoyed this review! It was so much fun reviewing my first book on this blog! I hope you go and pick this book up. I think that you would really enjoy it! Just make sure you have Kleenex nearby and some tea to help calm you. 

You can purchase the book by clicking below!

The Nightingale: A Novel
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