The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was such an engaging and sweeping story. It told of the day to day struggles that the southern French citizens endured during the occupation of France by the Nazis. And it told of the resistance and how just a few individuals can make an impact on others by their sacrifices. It was so heartbreaking at the time (towards the end) and kept a steady pace throughout. I listened to the audio, so I am not sure about the chapter and transitions. I would just find myself realizing that oh we are back with Vivian or oh this is about Isabelle. I thought the story was very good.
I only have a few issues with the writing. First, I felt like the dialog was very stilted. The narrative portions are great and descriptive as well as moving, but then almost all the dialog felt off to me. Possible the author tried to use speech in the South of France (I think that's where they were most of the time, at least the small village) during the 1940s, but I didn't feel like it was authentic and natural. I've been a huge 1940 era movie fan, and while the dialog is different because I'm more accustom to American English, the main dialog felt forced. The other thing that didn't work was the frequent repetition of how dangerous Isabelle's work is or what she's facing if this was supposed to build suspense, it didn't. I also didn't understand how/why Vivian would go with the various people when they were being taken away by the Nazis and leave Sophie home with Ari (Daniel), but then I realized Sophie was older than I expected her to be. But more importantly Vivian was just stupid and naive at times, I know that is so much a part of her character, but sometimes it just was too much. I mean she goes with the butcher's wife I think when they are trying to take her away, and Vivian could have easily gotten swept up in it and carried off. So Vivian's character bothered me the most, I don't have a lot of sympathy for those that are blind and naive to what is around them. She was like a fricking ostrich with her head in the sand. And Vivian's character didn't seem to match the modern day older lady, the feistiness and attitude didn't fit with who the author showed Vivian's character as even with the growth towards the end of the war.
I most identified with Isabelle's character most, her impetuous nature, brazen anger, and independence. She was a sad character that never knew love until after so much hurt. I also think it is so interesting to see the contrast of personality in the sisters. It was a beautiful and moving story that I would recommend. The historical nature of the book was incredible as well.
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