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. Today's young people want to know everything about everyone. They think talking about a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. We understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.—The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2015, p. 1 [ARC])
- Setting: occupied France; World War II
- Circumstances: The story of civilian French women who protected allied forces and Jewish families from the Nazis, despite the brutal tactics of the German invaders.
- Characters: Viann Mauriac; her adolescent daughter, Sophie; her sister, Isabelle (also known as The Nightingale); family, neighbors, friends; refugees; Germans
- Genre: historical fiction; inspired by the true stories of women in war
- Plot device: Starts in 1995 in the United States, moves to France during WWII, and returns to the novel's present.
- Some thoughts: The novel does not whitewash what women did to survive or the way the German soldiers took advantage of women's vulnerability. Sisters Viann and Isabelle have different personalities and life experiences and thus take different risks: neither walked an easy path.
- Recommendation: Hannah shows us another side of the horrors of WWII but also reminds us that ordinary people truly can (and did) make a difference; they just need to hold fast to what they know is right, no matter what. An important, and often forgotten, story of wartime.
- Extras: visit Kristin Hannah's website for a reading guide and photos; The Nightingale is an Indie Next pick for February; in the following short video, Hannah talks about her research and inspiration for this novel.
Thanks to St. Martin's Press, I'm able to give one of my readers a copy of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale. All you have to do to enter for a chance to win is to have a U.S. mailing address and fill out the form. I'll pick a winner using a random number generator on February 18. Once the winner has been confirmed and I've passed his or her address on to the publicist, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck.