"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A few thoughts on The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale Audiobook
I finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah after a four-hour marathon listening session today. Let me explain how that was possible. This morning school was cancelled due to a large number of our school district buildings being without power. My unexpected day off of school gave me an opportunity to finish the audiobook which was due back to the library in two days even though I still had hours of listening left to go. I cued up my iPod and listened while I cleaned the kitchen, while I finished putting out the Christmas decorations, and while I played a few computer games. Four hours later I was finished with the book and determined to write down a few of my thoughts while they were fresh.

  • In case you don't know, The Nightingale is set in France during WWII, focusing mainly on two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne. They both get involved in the French resistance. Isabelle helps save downed Allied airmen by leading them to safety in Spain. Vianne helps save Jewish children from the slaughter of the Holocaust. Both are compelling and complex characters.
  • The writing was strong but I found myself feeling a bit frustrated by two things. The first was many of the details seemed so cliche, especially in the opening chapters. For example, Vianne walks through her house in the French countryside which is decorated in a sort of shabby chic style, with bunches of lavender and other herbs hanging from the ceiling. she tucks a picnic into a basket of grapes, a baguette, hard cheese, and wine. Secondly, I would catch the author in her inconsistencies. Vianne would spend all morning queuing for food and come away with nothing. She would trudge home sadly empty handed then would do to the basement to retrieve sausage and potatoes for dinner. Her chickens were mentioned several times but eating the eggs never was. Picky, picky. I know.
  • The scope of the book was massive. It dealt with so many aspects related to WWII it was almost overwhelming: French resistance; deportation of  Jews by the French in compliance with the German directives; differences of life in the country and in the city, Paris, under German occupation; concentration camps; and the deprivations and horrors inflicted on the French people at the hands of the German. 
  • As I read (listened) to the story I wondered if Isabelle's story was based on facts. Indeed it was. Kristin Hannah said she got the idea for this book while doing research for another book when she came upon the story of a Belgian teenager who helped save downed Allied airmen by guiding them through a series of safe houses, over the Pyrenees, to safety in Spain. Her name was Andree de Jongh. She seemed to be quite a remarkable woman. I'd like to read more about her life.
  • I know this statement will sound strange to you but I can think of one good thing about Hitler: Hitler and Nazi's have sure given us plenty of material to use for writing compelling books. This is my seventh book of the year which focused, or partially focused on WWII. It amazes me there are still topics which seem fresh and interesting. The other six books I read about WWII this year are:
    • Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege on Leningrad by M.T. Anderson (WWII in Russia and the Siege on Leningrad, specifically; nonfiction.)
    • Black Dove and White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Italo-Ethiopian War, set in Ethiopia in 1935-36, Mussolini attacks Ethiopia as a precursor to WWII; historical fiction.)
    • The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (a portion of the story is set in Bosnia during WWII.)
    • The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones (a portion of the book is set on a South Pacific island during WWII; fiction.)
    • The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Petersen and the Churchill Boys by Philip Hoose (WWII resistance by Danish teens; nonfiction.)
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (WWII in Germany and in the France; fiction.)
  • Even though I have read lots of WWII books this year and I found inconsistencies in the story, I still liked The Nightingale quite a lot. The last fourth of the book made me quite weepy thinking about loss and love and sad memories. I also learned that the author, Kristin Hannah, is from Washington state. Who knows? Maybe I will run into her sometime. That would be cool.
  • Quote: In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.

  • My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
  • Macmillan Audio , 2015.

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed the book once I got into it, although I wasn't a huge fan of her writing. Loved the ending though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. The ending tied things up nicely. I was actually a little surprised by it, too.

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