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The Nightingale Bets On...

The Nightingale

February 2015

I love it when authors take on new challenges and push their craft to a new level. That is what Kristin Hannah has done with THE NIGHTINGALE. About seven months into writing her first draft, she realized that this had the potential to be a bigger book than anything she had written before. The storyline of World War II France was giving her a wide landscape, and the characters of the two sisters were solid, but this was a story that was going to take time to tell. She wanted to look at the war through the eyes of women, as she felt that the subject had been told mainly through the lens of men in the past.

One of her previous books, WINTER GARDEN, had a character who bore the emotional scars of her life in war-torn Leningrad, but here she had the chance to flesh out a big story. She went to France and did research, feeling there was a need to see the places that she was writing about. Back in the States she read and continued to research, and what emerged was a vivid picture of life for women in France, full of historical detail that makes this one rich story.

On an emotional level, Kristin captures hope and fear, dreams and reality. The book opens in 1939. One of the sisters is married and never believed the Nazis would invade their village until her home is commandeered by the Germans; the other joins the Resistance and risks her life to fight for what she believes in. Family bonds them together, but each has her own war to fight. Kristin gives us a chance to see just who these sisters are and forces one to think What would I have done?

Here’s a quote about the novel to ponder: “In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” Think of that as you savor this book.

One more thing: THE NIGHTINGALE is perfect for book groups with its themes of sisters, love, war and survival. Discussion will fly in many different ways! 

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah