THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah
Do not be put off by the “women’s fiction” classification of this book. THE NIGHTINGALE is a well- researched, well written discussion of the realities, cruelties and decisions that face an ordinary family in Vichy France. The book, beginning in 1938 as war approaches, is told from the viewpoint of the surviving sister many years later. The family, father and two sisters, is torn apart by their individual decisions when one sister and her children are forced to house a German officer in the family home in a small village after her husband joins the Allied Forces. The father, remaining in Paris, attempts to continue the family’s bookstore, while the second daughter chooses to join the resistance.
Village life under occupation and the dangers of resistance are clearly shown. The characters and situations are well developed and realistic. The supporting characters are shown to be humans acting under extreme duress – the good are not always good and the bad are not always bad.
I would have preferred to learn more about Rachel and her plight after she is forced from her job early in the occupation. We never quite learn how she is able to survive and seemingly thrive with no money and no way to get any.
Book groups will have a plethora of topics to discuss, including what decisions they would make concerning “outing” Jews, lying to friends and family, fraternizing with the enemy, murder, resistance, and many others.
5 of 5 stars