Genres: Historical Fiction
The Nightingale came out in 2015, and since then there has been such buzz about it, I just had to read it. At first I was put off by the WWII theme, as I have recently read quite some of those, but when I saw the story was about two sisters, I was curious and convinced. As I have a sister myself, I always relate and am instantly drawn to books about sisterhood.
This book follows the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle Roussignol from France, as the World War Two starts. Since their father came back from fighting in WWI, he was never the same. The poetry-loving, gentle person the girls knew is gone, and after their mother died of an illness, he gave up on them altogether. At 14, Vianne finds herself battling anxiety and the abandonment, and responsible for her small sister. As depression sinks in, she finds it too hard to give Isabelle the attention she craves. Two years later, she marries the man of her dreams, Antoine, the only person who was able to make her feel in peace. In the meantime, little Isabelle learns the true meaning of being alone. Being sent by her father from one place to another, in the vain hope that she will learn good manners, Isabelle refuses to accept the rejection she receives from both her father and her sister. She craves love, and she demands it. Years of loneliness made her brave, independent and hopeful. When the war comes, both sisters will find themselves entangled in the pain and struggles that come with it.
This book had such a well-rounded story. It had everything one could possibly want: courage, adventure, romance, wonderful characters, heart-breaking scenes, hope, forgiveness. This book will leave you with heartache, so don’t pick it up if you’re not up for all the emotions that it’ll bring. I don’t cry reading books, but from this one I had to make several pauses to avoid just that. Although it isn’t particularly fast-paced, it is so hard to put it down. I found both Vianne and Isabelle very relatable characters albeit a little exaggerated in their personalities. Despite the slightly unrealistic naïveté of Isabelle and Vianne’s passiveness when facing struggles due to her self-denial, I didn’t think this was to the demerit of the book. It just made me wonder about my own flaws and if I would have done it any other way at all.
The first 400 pages of this book were a solid 4 stars, but the last 100 were a solid 5, so I decided to give this book a 5.
Verdict: There are some triggers in this book that need to be taken into consideration. It shows victims of the concentration camps, there is torture and rape as well. Although not so explicit as other books, it still has some emotional impact. So avoid this books is these themes are sensitive to you. The Nightingale is written beautifully and is unafraid of tempering with your emotions. The bravery of the two sisters, each in their own way, and their moral dilemmas as they try to survive are just inspiring. I feel that WWII is a little overused as a theme for historical fiction, but this book is so worth reading.