The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone
The Nightingale is a story that I will remember. Not just remember, embrace. More than a story, this book clings to me. Its heart and soul speak out as though it was made for preserving. A keepsake.
… grief, like regret, settles into our DNA and remains forever part of us.
I am drawn to WWII books, in particular, those set in occupied France. I don’t know why – they are almost always sad and I tend to question what I would have done in the same situation… I know courage would have failed me and that doesn’t lead to happy thoughts. But it is why I found myself drawn to Vianne whose courage didn’t come easy.
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.
Although the Goodreads abstract below suggests the sisters were always close this isn’t how I interpreted their relationship which had been negatively influenced by the loss of their mother, subsequent absent father, and very different personalities. Their tenuous bond fluctuated over the course of the war and brought additional tension and emotion to the story.
“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
While the novel is written in the third person, the intermittent glimpse to the future (1995) is narrated by one of the sisters (it is not clear for the majority of the book which sister this is) in the first person. This glimpse forward with its unmistakable hindsight adds an element of mystery to the story which I loved.
He held her gaze and suddenly she couldn’t breathe. “I am a soldier now it seems”.
Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Narrator: Polly Stone
Publication Date: 3 February 2015
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Review copy
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Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.
As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions. — Abstract from Goodreads.com