Wednesday 18 March 2015

The Nightingale

Finished March 17
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This novel is set mostly in France during World War II, but as a memory of that time by a woman looking back from 1995. You aren't sure who the woman is until near the end of the book.
As the war begins Viann Mariac is living in the Loire valley with her husband Antoine and her daughter Sophie. When Antoine gets called to go off to war, Viann is upset. Her father had gone away to fight in World War One, and came back a changed man, no longer interested in being the father she and her younger sister needed. When her mother died shortly after, her father abandoned the two girls in this country house. Viann found her best friend Rachel, and Antoine, but Isabelle didn't settle and Viann was too caught up in her own life's issues to take care of her in the way she needed. Instead Isabelle was sent off to boarding school, bouncing from one school to another as her behaviour caused her to be sent away. And that is her situation as the war begins, once again sent home to Paris and her father from a boarding school. This time her father sends her to Viann again, but she is caught on the road during the mass exodus from the city, and struggles to reach the village in the Loire valley.
Isabelle's temperament doesn't suit her life of living in a quiet village doing what she is told, and the German occupation doesn't leave room for her outbursts without endangering Viann and Sophie. So when an opportunity to do something meaningful comes her way, Isabelle takes it, and Viann assumes she is doing something silly and impetuous once again.
As the war continues, both sisters find that circumstances throw them into the path of difficult decisions and risky actions, and as different as the two women are, they both resent the German presence strongly and hope for an end to the war that will let them live lives of happiness with those they care about.
I enjoy books of this time period, particularly those with strong female characters such as these. The plot was good and I liked the way the story was set up as a woman looking back on this time in her life.

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