The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Make no mistake I was choked up with tears by the end. A story of tragedy, horror, bravery and love. Of two sisters who end up fighting the Nazi occupation of France in very different ways. Isabelle, with her devil-may-care attitude hiding her desperate need for love flings herself into the adventure, for France, freedom and for women. Vianne is thrust into her role. The epitome of the French housewife we follow her as she she endures the absence of her husband, the knowledge that he's been interred as a prisoner of war, the fight for food and survival as the war continues. The forced interment of her best friend and Jewish neighbour Rachel, the fear of the enforced billeting of Nazi officers in her home, all are fraught with anguish and danger. Quietly the wheel of life turns and she is forced to make heroic efforts to protect her family, and in the end, others.
Hannah's use of language, the ability to write so provocatively, to allow us into the thoughts and minds of these two very different sisters is powerful. We live the hardships, the fear and the moments of joy from inside. We become them for a brief moment. Two women illuminating this time from a woman's perspective. Beyond this is the story of how both the 1st and 2nd World Wars affected families down through the generations. Of their father who went to war and came back broken, unable to declare his love. The effect this in turn had on his daughters and how that drove each in different ways.
'We remain' sums much up--the final catch cry that says too little and covers an eternity for all who are devastated by the harrowing the effects that war produces. Yes we see the ugliness and horror of these times. Mostly though we see that the human spirit despite its flaws can be a beautiful, heart breaking thing. Bravo Kristin Hannah!
A NetGalley ARC