This book is a gem.
For those of you who know me well, you know I really like historical fiction, particularly if the setting is during the Civil War or World War 2 Europe. This novel fits the later time-frame although every few chapters it jumps to 1995 Oregon.
In the quiet French village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac must say "good-bye" to her beloved husband Antoine. He has been ordered to join the military forces. It is the start of World War II.
No one in Carriveau...or Paris for that matter...really believe that the Nazis will invade their beloved country. But...they do....and it is horrible. The German forces begin to take over the little village as well as the city of Paris. One German soldier demands to live in Le Jardin, the beautiful country home that has been handed down to Vianne from her side of the family. She has no choice....she and her 7 year old daughter Sophie must live with the enemy. His name is Beck. If they don't allow him to live there, they could lose everything. As danger begins to reach the far corners of their little village, Vianne must make one impossible choice after another just to keep her family alive.
Meanwhile, her younger sister Isabelle, age 18, is searching for a passion and purpose. She has always been rebellious...ever since their Maman died and their Papa left them with a mean village woman to raise them. Papa fled to Paris and opened a bookstore and basically abandoned his daughters, both physically and emotionally.
Isabelle recently ran away from yet another convent to live with her Papa whom she is hoping will finally love her as only a father can do. However, when Paris is seized by the German Nazis, he forces her to leave the city and go to Vianne's home. Isabelle, however, meets Gaetan and falls in love. When he betrays her, she joins the Resistance....risking her life and her family's to save others. What will happen to her?? Will she ever see Gaetan again?? or her sister?
She is known as the Nightingale because their last name, Rossignol, means "nightingale". Just what will the Nightingale do to aid others in this war??
Will she make it out alive?? Will she ever know the love of her Papa??
And what about Vianne?? Will she survive life without Antoine next to her? What happens when her best friend Rachel, a Jew, is deported??
Read the book to find out.
This was one of the very best books I've read since this review.
This is a story of courage, love, passion, and ideals. It is historically accurate and the depictions of the conditions in France and the concentration camps will make you weep.
The author shows a side of WWII we don't often hear about: the bravery of the women and what some of them did to survive and help the innocent people whom Hitler was so evil towards.
It really depicts the strength and persistence of women and the resiliency of the human soul.
At first I was curious as to which sister was doing the talking in the first chapter which is set in 1995 Oregon. She has been invited to go back to Paris for a special anniversary dinner honoring the work of "The Nightingale". But which sister is the voice?? That is for you to find out!! I don't want to spoil it for you. You will not find out until the book is almost finished.
The character development is strong and probably (in my opinion) this author's best novel thus far. (yes, I have read almost all of her other novels and have enjoyed almost all of them).
The setting is stark.......yet alive....so well done in describing Paris in WWII. I just enjoyed every description and every emotion conveyed.
I believe everyone should read this novel.....it shows a side of WWII we don't often read about. It will leave you thanking God that we haven't seen this type of horror since. Not even in this latest round of terrorism. Nothing has been like WW2 and I pray it never is again.
I do think this would make a most excellent movie IF the producers, directors, writers left it just like the author wrote it.
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.