I absolutely hate reading books about war because they upset me so much. I usually end up angry and crying. Or angry and with a headache because I’m trying not to cry. Basically, it all just upsets the crap out of me and I don’t like it.
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, is no exception. I didn’t think it would be and although it was on my To-Read list, I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to reading it if it wasn’t selected by my book club. But, it was, and I had to read it and I ended up angry and crying both when I was reading the book and during the book club discussion.
Which isn’t to say this is not a good book. It is. Hannah is a good writer and the book is written well. It tells the story of two French women, sisters, during WWII. The older sister, Vianne, lives in a village with her husband and daughter while the younger sister, Isabelle, lives in Paris. Isabelle and Vianne don’t much get along and when they get separated during the Occupation, neither seems particularly bothered by it. Although their paths occasionally cross, they spend most of the war dealing with the Occupation, and with the Nazi occupiers, in different ways.
One of our book club members felt the book lagged in the middle, and I could see why she thought that, but I thought it was pretty smart of Hannah to do that. Because there was lag during the war in France. France was not taken all at once and so there were waves of refugees and waves of Nazis and waves of bombings and waves of neighbors being taken to camps and/or killed. So, you could see why some people thought, “Oh, the Nazi occupation won’t be so bad. They haven’t killed anyone I know yet.”
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s easy to get complacent because evil people don’t wear t-shirts that read “Hi, I’m Evil and I’m here to ruin everything you love.” And it would be nice if they did, but they don’t and that sucks. But we all need to keep our guard up and remember that a Nazi, is a Nazi, is a Nazi.