Author is a retired attorney having practiced for 35 years in Illinois who now lives in Texas and started writing stories about a year and a half ago.
Book Review: The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah’s latest best seller, The Nightingale, is the story about the lives of two French sisters during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. The older sister decides to go along with the occupation, best she can that is, as she awaits the return of her soldier husband held in a German prisoner of war camp. The younger sister is unmarried, hates the Nazis, and joins the French resistance. The story is told by the older sister now an old woman living in Oregon and dying of cancer. She’s telling her story in 1995 of what she, her sister, their father and the people they knew, did to survive the occupation. A constant sub theme running throughout the story is the ongoing troubled relationship that the sisters have with their father.
The title of the book, ‘The Nightingale’, seems to me anyway, somewhat not quite fitting because the actions of The Nightingale are only a part of the whole story and not the total driving force moving the story along. Perhaps a different title might have been more fitting, one that captures the whole panorama of all the events. Nevertheless the title does the novel no harm.
The major characters, besides the sisters and their father are: a fellow resistance fighter with whom the younger sister falls in love, two German officers whom the older sister is forced to billet in her home, the dear Jewish friend of the older sister who meets her inevitable fate and whose child the older sister saves. Minor figures include rescued downed British pilots, Catholic nuns, fellow resistance fighters, and the neighbors of the sisters. Though the author has rounded up all the usual suspects for a World War II novel, she has pieced them together nicely in a new and entertaining way that keep the reader turning the pages.
The author is a former lawyer. It seems that there’s a lot of lawyer authors today. More money and less stress must be the driving force behind that. Anyway, being a former one myself, lawyer that is, not author, I went to the library after reading this book looking for another book by this fellow lawyer with an historical setting. Unfortunately for me there were none. All her other books were, as I call them, and I mean no disrespect, chick flick books, what appeared to be contemporary women oriented stories. Those books sell but I don’t care for them. It’s simply a matter of taste. I don’t like beets but I like broccoli. George Bush doesn’t like broccoli. Different personal tastes. No disrespect intended. Check her books out if that’s what you’re into. They’re probably good reads like this one was.
Anyway as the war ends so does the story with the old woman going to Paris in 1995, with her son, for a reunion with her fellow surviving compatriots. Here her son, for the first time, learns about what his mother and her family did during the war. But there’s one thing that his mother keeps to herself, though the reader obviously knows what it is.
The ending is an honest to goodness real old fashioned tear jerker. Yeah I cried, but so what, ‘mens’ are human sometimes too you know. It’s the perfect and only way to end the story, not a word should be changed.
Read the book, then cry at the end.