AUTHOR: Kristin Hannah
GENRE: Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: February 2, 2015
Available @ AMAZON
REVIEWER: Pistol Annie
RATING: 5 “UNFORGETTABLE” STARS
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ‘Tis the season — and the reason that I’ll be posting reviews during the month of December for some of my all-time favorite books. These are the titles that always seem to find their way back onto my reading stack year after year. I’m dubbing it a celebratory tribute to Auld Lang Syne, adding a little extra sparkle to brighten the arrival of the New Year 2018, as I step back and remember beloved book friends and their stories.
A #1 New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, and soon to be a major motion picture.
I’m simply inept at finding the right words to do proper justice in reviewing this truly meaningful and haunting journey shrouded in the history and atrocities of wartime, as the Germans are beginning their invasion into France. A book that will be remembered long after the last word is read — a lasting memory and a true treasure on my bookshelves.
If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.
Before we begin, let us not forget that historical fiction is a literary genre with content based upon certain events in history, but whose characters are a production of the writer’s imagination in illustrating the history being portrayed. Kristin Hannah recreates a period of time that immerses readers in the tragedies of World War II. She brings the past back to life and makes it matter.
You can’t read this fictional saga without falling hopelessly in love with Hannah’s remarkable writing skills that are simply stellar and mesmerizing. She captures your heart in a riveting and flawlessly written story surrounded by a memorable cast of characters. The pages are filled with such strong emotions that you’ll feel the intensity in each and every high and low. I don’t remember ever highlighting so many marvelous quotes throughout a book. Some brought smiles to my lips and others immense sadness and grief. Without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve read.
I wouldn’t describe what, in my opinion, is Kristin Hannah’s best work yet as a romance novel. It most certainly includes romance, but it isn’t defined as such. Readers will find many varieties of love on its pages that reach far beyond the boundaries of just romance. Love surpassing that of just the lovers, it’s all-consuming in its devotion and emotion that is inclusive for one’s country, home, family, friends, and lovers.
The story of The Nightingale begins in 1995, with an elderly woman who is dying of cancer. Her identity is not revealed until much later. As her son is helping with her final move into a nursing facility, he finds a photo of an unknown woman and asks who she is. His mother begins to reminisce as she returns to a time long ago — France in 1939, telling the story of her family and the mysterious woman known as Juliette Gervaise.
Two sisters – Vianne, a married woman left behind to care for their children as she is forced to say good-bye to her husband as he goes off to war, and Isabelle, a passionate and rebellious eighteen-year old, who travels a dangerous path with stars in her eyes, as she helps in the war effort. The sisters are opposites providing for some tense moments between them. Each is strong in her own way — one follows all the rules and the other breaks a few at every turn. And as the war rages on for six years, each will test the limits of her strength, learn who she is, and what she is truly capable of accomplishing.
The characters are in the driver’s seat as each day’s survival is the mainstay as they fight with fortitude, loyalty, and love to overcome true evil. I was left reeling from the emotional impact – and a sobbing mess. I cried both happy tears and sad tears. In some ways, old feelings returned that I had felt years ago when I first read The Diary of Anne Frank. Although here, the story is strictly fiction, it still carries some of those same extraordinary feels of a grown-up version of the older masterpiece.
I am being intentionally vague with the details. You’ll appreciate experiencing each moment all on your own. The book celebrates that part of history we seldom hear or read about. The so-called women’s war. Not only will it break your heart, but it will mend it by illuminating the moxie of women, their capabilities, resilience and endurance. Fair warning: Keep the tissues handy!
Considering the courage and sacrifices made by women today, and especially those who serve in our Armed Forces, the following statement was like a slap in the face and could not be more untrue:
And it’s a fact that women are useless in war. Your job is to wait for our return.
“Count your blessings and name them one by one.” There are many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I’ve never suffered the horrors of watching as my homeland is ravaged by war, or having to watch those people I love tormented and their lives devastated and shattered by evil enemies. There are no words to express how deeply this book affected me. And for these blessings and a multitude more, I am truly humbled, grateful and thankful.
The Nightingale has approximately 40,000 reviews, 86% are five-stars and 10% are four-stars, on just Amazon. The movie version is due to hit movie theaters on August 10, 2018. Read the book — see the movie — and celebrate women everywhere each day!
I can’t recommend this book highly enough!