Friday, July 22, 2016

The Nightingale

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I hesitated to read this. I admit it. One of Hannah's previous books was far from my reading preferences, and I wanted the hours I spent reading that book back for something else. Yet, some of my favorite people promised that I would like this book, and true to my historical fiction loving heart, I cannot resist a WWII story for long.

Nightingale is a really good book. It's not as well crafted as "All the Light We Cannot See" or "The Book Thief", but it tells a beautiful story. It's captivating and set up with unlikely and flawed heroes. I most enjoyed that Hannah took on a different side of the war - focusing on the French resistance and giving that delicious taste of French pride and determination a la Les Miserables.

The book gets a 4 star rating instead of a 5 star because sometimes you can see Hannah's work - meaning she is trying so hard to evoke a feeling or a setting that you can see the effort. It distracts from the flow of the story, and I'm left feeling annoyed at the delicate roses growing along the arbor instead of feeling the despair at the character's husband being sent off to war. This means too that some of the twists are evident for chapters, and I would rather be so caught up in a story that I can't see things coming...I should acknowledge though that I was left sputtering by the twist at the ending.

Lastly what keeps circling around in my brain is not the most common takeaways of the bond between sisters or spouses, what it means to be a parent, or what stories lay buried in a person's past. Rather, I am struck by how brave people had to be in the face of life threatening danger. I am so content with my small life, but I imagine that I would not quietly go into the night if someone or something threatened my life and the people in it. What would that look like? Would I collaborate with the enemy under extreme duress? Would I go out of my way to protect strangers? These are questions, of course, that thankfully can't be answered because of the safety I enjoy in my small corner of the world. But with a 24 hour news cycle forever blasting the uncertainty and tragedy that fills the lives of others, I am left hoping that I am never given the chance to know how I would behave.

As always, happy reading and happy summer!

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