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Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The book falls in the genre of historical fiction that narrates the tale of two sisters (Vianne and Isabelle) during WWII when France had been occupied by Hitler-led Nazi.

Like Edith’s Story, this book is too about women survival in the wartime. Both sisters come across many types of hardships and heartbreaks, despite that both go ahead with chin up courageously. Their intentions are to help others in such dreadful time when people have become selfish to save themselves or their means of sustenance. All they want is to contribute for the good for common folks. 

Vianne engages herself to help and save Jewish children, while Isabelle works out to help many Allied pilots to escape out of France by escorting them. Her character is inspired by a Belgian woman, Andree de Jongh. Isabelle traverses through perilous time for this task. During the same time, she finds love (falls in love with a pilot). Though both sisters differ in personality but they are very much similar when it comes to virtues like audacity, resilience, courage, and determination to help others.

This is a terrific story of war time, well-written and with powerful twists and turns. The author writes in the beginning: ‘In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. And sometimes, perhaps, we don’t want to know what we would do to survive.’ Beautiful, Isn’t it?

As the book nears to its end, she expresses, ‘Men tell stories, women get on with it. There were no parades for us when the war was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.’ This is amazing but at the same time heartbreaking that after the war is over people fail to recognize the efforts contributed by the women during wartime. The story is written from a woman’s point of view but every war has women heroes as well. The need to honour them is equally important. 

After reading this book, readers may wonder there must be so many untold stories of forgotten remarkable women heroes during WW I & II.

Overall, the book brings a stark insight into the lives of the unsung heroines of WWII. Their contribution was silent but significant too. The writer has beautifully portrayed with adequate dose of emotions struggles of women during the war.

Those who love war fiction, The Nightingale is one of the favorite books of all time. It is a powerful depiction of the futility of war and of the many hues of bravery. All characters are so powerfully sketched. The ending is loveable when she decides to keep that one secret to herself. What a fabulous read!


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