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The Nightingale Hardcover – February 3, 2015

4.8 out of 5 stars 26,979 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Amazon Spotlight Pick for February 2015: Kristin Hannah is a popular thriller writer with legions of fans, but her latest novel, The Nightingale, soars to new heights (sorry) and will earn her even more ecstatic readers. Both a weeper and a thinker, the book tells the story of two French sisters – one in Paris, one in the countryside – during WWII; each is crippled by the death of their beloved mother and cavalier abandonment of their father; each plays a part in the French underground; each finds a way to love and forgive. If this sounds sudsy. . . well, it is, a little. . . but a melodrama that combines historical accuracy (Hannah has said her inspiration for Isabelle was the real life story of a woman who led downed Allied soldiers on foot over the Pyrenees) and social/political activism is a hard one to resist. Even better to keep you turning pages: the central conceit works – the book is narrated by one of the sisters in the present, though you really don’t know until the very end which sister it is. Fast-paced, detailed, and full of romance (both the sexual/interpersonal kind and the larger, trickier romance of history and war), this novel is destined to land (sorry, again) on the top of best sellers lists and night tables everywhere. -- Sara Nelson


“I loved Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale. She has captured a particular slice of French life during World War II with wonderful details and drama. But what I loved most about the novel was the relationship between the two sisters and Hannah's exploration of what we do in moments of great challenge. Do we rise to the occasion or fail? Are we heroes or cowards? Are we loyal to the people we love most or do we betray them? Hannah explores these questions with probing finesse and great heart.” ―Lisa See, #1 New York Times bestseller author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

“In this epic novel, set in France in World War II, two sisters who live in a small village find themselves estranged when they disagree about the imminent threat of occupation. Separated by principles and temperament, each must find her own way forward as she faces moral questions and life-or-death choices. Haunting, action-packed, and compelling.” ―Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

“I read The Nightingale in one sitting, completely transported to wartime France, completely forgetting where I was. A historical novel―built on Kristin Hannah’s proven skill with story, complex and enduring family ties, and passion―one that will captivate readers.” ―Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness

“I found The Nightingale absolutely riveting! I started reading it one night after supper with every intention of reading just a few chapters for that evening and could not put it down. Not only is it an emotionally inspiring story with well-drawn characters whom you grow to care about deeply, but it is also historically informative….Read this book. It will keep you guessing throughout about the two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, both brave young women who did what they thought was the right thing to do in the most of difficult circumstances. They had--in the words of Lawrence Langer the WW2 historian scholar” ―too often to make ‘choiceless choices.'" –Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Director of the University of Miami Holocaust Teacher Institute

“A beautifully written and richly evocative examination of life, love, and the ravages of war, and the different ways people react to unthinkable situations―not to mention the terrible and mounting toll of keeping secrets. This powerhouse of a story is equally packed with action and emotion, and is sure to be another major hit.” ―Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (February 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312577222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312577223
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26,979 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Hansen VINE VOICE on November 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have long been fascinated with the stories of World War 2, which is why I chose to read this book. The story focuses on two sisters - Isabelle and Viann— in occupied France, and what they did to survive the war. While the characters in this book are not real, their stories are based on things that really happened during World War 2. It was a new perspective for me to read of what women did during the war; not just them surviving at home without their men, (fathers and husbands) but what they did to save those in danger. These women endured incredible, unimaginable circumstances. They were faced with danger and difficult decisions. They had to be brave and strong and keep moving forward despite their hardships.

Kristin Hannah has an incredible way with words; her descriptions are vivid; you see what the characters are seeing, you feel what they are feeling; you feel like you are there. I felt like I was experiencing what they were; hunger, deprivation, cold, separation from a loved one, fear, pain, etc. I found the book very hard to put down, as I had to know what the outcome for these two incredible women would be. Each time I did have to stop reading, I found myself thinking and pondering on what I had read, and what might happen next. I tried to put myself in their shoes, wondering if I would have been as brave as them, if I could have survived what they did, if I would have done what they did. This is an excellent book; it makes you feel, it makes you think, and it makes you grateful for what you have.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Nightingale" may be Kristin Hannah's best book yet! Combining history, family relationships and dynamics, as well as focusing on individuals doing what is necessary to survive the horrors of war, this novel draws readers into the story and holds them firmly in its grip from first page to last. It is a novel of finding the courage to do what is right and then of doing what is necessary to do the right thing.

As an elderly woman prepares to leave her home of fifty years, she opens an old trunk and retrieves an identification card - "Juliette Gervais". Insisting that her son permit her to take an old trunk stored in the attic with her, the woman allows herself to remember her past life and that of her family immediately preceding and during the years of the Nazi occupation of France. "...For years I kept the memories at bay. I hid them in a dusty attic, far from prying eyes ..." She, however, could not forget.

The Rosingal sisters, Viann and Isabelle, are as different as two sisters can be. "...Viann the rule follower and Isabelle the rebel ..." Their widowed father, emotionally damaged by his service in World War I, is unable to care for the two after his wife's death. He banishes Viann from his home when she becomes pregnant and marries the young man with whom she is in love. He cannot deal with Isabelle's rebellion and sends her to boarding school.

When the Vichy government acquiesces to the Nazi regime's occupation of a portion of France, a kind-hearted Nazi officer billeted in Viann's country home allows her to overlook some of the atrocities taking place in Europe. Reality shatters her complacency when her best friend, a Jew, is captured. The Nazi officer's comment "...I was following orders ...
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For the first time in ages I stayed up through the night reading a book, reaching the last page after 9:00 a.m. "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah is that good. I simply couldn't put it down. This isn't just a book about World War II, or women who worked in the French Resistance; it goes much, much deeper. You'll be quickly drawn into the lives of Viann and Isabelle, their history and complicated relationship, as well as France during its German occupation. Yet "The Nightingale" is about far more than even that. It's about ordinary people drawn into unthinkable circumstances beyond their control and the choices they must make to take back some of that control... impulsive choices, dangerous choices, heart wrenching and even catastrophic choices that can't be undone. It's about bravery and cowardice. Most of all, the novel is about the power of love in all its many forms.

Ms. Hannah has a remarkable gift with words. You can "see" the story unfolding very clearly in your mind's eye. She brings you onto the streets of Paris with Isabelle, into the kitchen or garden with Viann, and into scenes and circumstances that will linger with you almost as if you'd been there. No spoilers here. I highly recommend you read it yourself, but be sure to plan on being unable (or unwilling) to put it down.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having just finished All the Light We Cannot See I was looking for another highly rated piece of literary fiction. I was drawn to this book because of the abundance of reviews. I felt compelled to write this review for the other readers like me who are drawn to highly rated books with a certain set of expectations.

The introduction, the modern day reflection, is really good and left me with high expectations for the rest of the book. When the story itself began I came to realize three things.

1) this is a (flimsy) romance novel - not literary fiction
2) the setting is arbitrary. All the Light We Cannot See occurring during WW2 is a relevant point and integral to the story. In Nightingale WW2 is just a weak representation of "war-time". It could have just as easily taken place during any other real (Civil War) or fictional (cf. War of the Ring in Lord of the Rings)
3) the story itself (excluding the first chapter), had a very formulaic and unrefined prose. It was very easy to read because of how simple the writing was, and you could set a metronome to the sentence structure of. "Isabelle did this. Vianne did that. There were aeroplanes in the sky." It's not a horrible style for storytelling, but it lacks sophistication.

All that being written.

* If you are looking for a romance novel that is easy to read and doesn't force you to think too much then this is probably a great read - I don't read that genre and I don't claim to be a good judge of it.

* If you are rather looking for challenging literary fiction that is thought-provoking then this is not a good book for you.
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