Monday, May 11, 2015

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Read by:  Polly Stone
Publisher: MacMillian Audio
Length: Approximately 17.5 hours (14 CDs)
Source:  Kewaunee Public Library - Thanks!

The Nightingale is one of the best novels I have read (or listened to!) in quite some time and I’ve read a lot of good books this year.  I looked forward to my daily commute just so I could listen to this audiobook and find out what was next in the story.  I don’t know if I have cried so much listening to another audiobook before . . . which I don’t recommend while driving!  The Nightingale packed an emotional punch and was a very compelling novel.

The Nightingale tells the story of two very different sisters.  Both were emotionally and figuratively abandoned by their father after their mother’s death.  Vianne was 14 and Isabelle was 4.  Vianne escaped through falling in love with Antoine and marrying when only 16.  After a series of miscarriages, she found herself unable to take care of her troublesome younger sister and Isabelle was shipped off to a series of boarding schools.  When WWII starts, Vianne says goodbye to her husband, but after the Germans quickly take over France, she soon realizes that the war will be fought at home and she will have to do what she can to survive.  Isabelle has high ideals and dreams of becoming a hero with the resistance, while Vianne tries to survive in her small town of Carriveau and keep herself and her daughter Sophie alive.

The novel starts out with an older woman in the United States narrating the story and wondering if she should tell her son about the terrible things that had happened during the war.  The reader is not sure who the narrator is until the end of the novel.  It was a nice mystery that was woven throughout.
I thought this was the best Kristin Hannah book I’ve read so far and I can’t wait to discuss it at our FLICKS book club meeting later this month.  There were many reasons why I enjoyed it so much.  One major reason was that this is a side of the story of WWII that I haven’t read or heard about as much before, the story of the women left behind in France and what happened to them during the occupation.  I was afraid the story would become cliché or that I would be able to guess what would happen, but it never did.  I was continually surprised at what direction the story took.  The characters were all well rounded, including some of the enemy officers.  Everyone had their faults, but it was what they chose to do with their life that made the difference.

The audiobook was very well done and Polly Stone was an excellent narrator who provided a voice for each character.  When I finished listening to this audiobook, I actually started listening to it again it was so good.  But sadly I have to take it back to the library now.

Overall, The Nightingale is not to be missed – you must read this book!  I have read on Kristin Hannah’s Facebook posts that this is going to be turned into a movie and I can’t wait, it will be excellent.  I could wax on about this book for quite some time, but going into it not knowing the intimate details is the best for a reader experiencing the book for the first time.  

A question for readers of this book – what part put you through the emotional wringer?  My first moment of tears was Sarah.


  1. Thank you for a wonderful review.

  2. This sounds wonderful, Laura. Lovely review! I will be adding this one to my wishlist.

  3. Thanks! Book club is this week and I can't wait to discuss this book. It was one of the best books I've ever read.