I received several recommendations for The Nightingale and it was a great novel. Unfortunately I spent the entire time thinking it read like the first half of The Girl You Left Behind was fleshed out and made a bit more violent. It’s 1940s France- you have two sisters, a husband at war, German soldiers billeting at the pretty French girl’s home etc.
The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne, during Germany’s occupancy of France. Vianne married young and adores her husband; together they have a young daughter and live in a quiet French village. Vianne’s younger sister, Isabelle, bounced between finishing schools after her mother died and has a bit of a rebellious streak. Neither woman is close with the father, who never recovered from his time in WWI and his wife’s death.
After the Germans come to France Isabelle gets involved with the French Resistance where she becomes an integral part of the organization. Vianne spends the early years of the war thinking only of her daughter’s well being and waiting for her husband to come home. When the war gets too close to home Vianne takes up her own cause in aiding the Resistance.
The Nightingale is very thorough, it starts at the beginning of the war and goes throughout the entire ordeal. As the war drags on the situation in France becomes more dire, the women take bigger risks and the Germans get less kind. There are moments of triumph that briefly lift the mood but as the story progresses the situations described become less humane and more difficult to read about.
Hannah created a fully formed world and gives great insight in the role many women played during World War II.