This review originally appeared on WorldOfJoel.com
I'm not even sure where to begin. I've never read a novel by Kristin Hannah. She's an author quite frankly that up until the release of The Nightingale I had never heard of before. But having heard nothing but praise for her latest novel I felt as though I owed it to myself to get out of my normal genres and this historical fiction set during World War II.
If you don't know anything about The Nightingale it's a novel that follows the lives of two women in France right before WWII all the way through the war and beyond. It's a novel that's told from both of their perspectives and sheds light on a side of war that is so often forgotten, those that are still home while others are off fighting the war. It's easily one of the best novels I've ever read. Each line was written by someone who is without a doubt at the top of her craft. The novel takes place in both Paris and also a small town. To see the similarities of the struggles in both places just shows the stronghold Germany had on France during the war.
The Nightingale is not a short read. It's an incredibly detailed novel and at times goes a little overboard. One of the small nitpicks I have is that it spends a little too much time describing food. It's an interesting choice given how little both characters actually have to eat. Small nitpicks aside the brilliance of the detail compounds as the novel goes on. As the war gets into full swing and the Nazi's take over France you quickly learn that life was not much better (and in some cases far worse) than those actually fighting the war. The idea of raising kids during the war is daunting. And yet this novel shows both the horrors and the small beams of hope.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved this book. It's brilliant. I'm not one to cry from a book but I teared up over a dozen times. It's heart wrenching. It pulls no punches. It's not a book I will probably ever read again (it takes a toll) but is one of the best books I've read in a long time.
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