I gave up on Kristin Hannah a few years ago. My book club had picked Firefly Lane, and I think I might’ve been the only one who didn’t like it. Everyone else seemed to like it, and I was really wondering why – it was a little too sappy for me. Since then, I hadn’t even considered reading another one of her books. Her latest book is The Nightingale, which seems to be very popular, and has been on the NYT’s bestseller list for 66 weeks. A few of my friends have been raving about it, insisting that I should read it. I decided to give it a try, despite my ban on her books.
The story focuses on Vianne, a young woman living in France before World War II, before the Nazi occupation began. So, not only was I hesitant about reading another Kristin Hannah book, as soon as I started reading it I though I cannot handle another book about (or at least set in) WWII. I just can’t. Vianne’s husband goes off to fight, and she is left behind. They have a daughter, and while he is away their home is requisitioned by the German military. She is then forced to live side by side with the enemy, as their home becomes the living quarters for a German army officer.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read set in France in the beginning stages of the war. It was a difficult time for the French people, and certainly one for Vianne, and her younger sister Isabelle. They’re both young when the war starts, and this experience shapes their lives significantly. How they survive the war is remarkable, and it brings them together in a way nothing else ever could. Their relationship and bond is probably the most enduring thing about the story. Without each other, neither would have been able to survive.
I had no expectations about this book. Even after hearing so many good things about it, I still had reservations. I challenged myself to read it. If I can challenge myself to read a really long book, or something really difficult to read – can’t I challenge myself to read something I’d normally just dismiss? I thought it was a good story, but overall I wasn’t that impressed. I’m glad I read it though. The had the expected sentimentality, a bit of romance, and two strong sisters. If you’re a romance fan, or a fan of Hannah’s previous book, you’ll like this book too. It’s a great summer read!
Enjoy, and happy reading!