“In love we find out who we want to be, in war we find out who we are”
How true indeed. The Nightingale is a beautifully written story about France occupied by the Nazis during World War II. It does not however describe the battles that took place during this devastating time and it does not say much about men who fought for France. It is the other story; the story about women and children left behind and how they managed to survive. Particularly it’s about two sisters: Vianne and Isabelle, both so different and so strong in their own way.
Vianne is happily married to Antoine; they have a daughter named Sophie and they live in the beautiful countryside. When Antoine is called for the Front (later imprisoned in the Nazi war camp), Vianne is devastated. She has been left alone with her daughter in the town that was very soon occupied by the Nazis. When one of them requisitioned her home, her main concern was to keep her daughter safe and don’t let her starve. Isabelle, on the other hand, is one of those rebellious characters. She is younger than Vianne, full of passion and looking for a purpose in life. She falls in love with a partisan who later broke her heart. I was grateful that this part did not become the centre of the story and instead focused on how Isabelle grew as a person after she joined the Resistance and started risking her life to save others.
Hannah also explores very important questions that bothered me as a reader. Would you stay loyal to your friends and people that are close to you, or would you betray them? Would you choose what’s easy or what’s right? Both, Vianne and Isabelle had to make difficult choices, some of them were hard to understand but it is easy to judge when one never experienced the painful reality of the war.
Hannah’s writing style is beautiful. While reading it, I could feel the emotions of the characters. It’s a sad and remarkable story that left me in tears.