So, I have finally finished ‘The Nightingale‘. In the end it took me only 4 days to read it, staying up until 4am to get to the end of it, just to get it out of the way and start our next book, ‘He Said, She Said’.
I enjoyed The Nightingale very much but I can’t see why there was so much hype about it, to be honest. It got 4.54 on Goodreads more than All the Light We Cannot See (4.3) It’s a good read, but it certainly did not affect me in the same way as All the Light We Cannot See. At book club it was a great choice and most highly recommend it. Marie and I were in a minority but I hasten to add that we did enjoy it, just not to the extend of the others.
So, my review is as follows. I found it rather melodramatic, clichéd, very predictable – Isabelle’s little room in Paris being used to save the airman, the barn used to save the Jews – you knew what was going to happen way before it did because Hannah prepares us for it before hand. For me there was very little tension in her writing. I thought it superficial and, dare I say it, a bit chick-lit!! I felt very little fear for Vianne when she hid Rachel, smuggled the children, got papers after a visit to Henri, and how wasn’t Isabelle caught simply by leaving tyre marks in the snow while riding her bike to deliver propaganda leaflets? And walk the Pyrenees in sandals?? Didn’t do it for me! I kept questioning everything by half way through, which then made the whole story just a little thin and disjointed, rushed and lacking in detail and explanations! OK enough negatives!! The story did reflect horrific details of the war, but for me Hannah didn’t succeed in putting it all together and creating a believable, tense, gritty, unforgettable WWll story. The end is the best part. Very poignant and heart wrenching. It made me cry and redeemed the other 4/5 of the book although again, I felt she was writing to try and make us cry!!
From Marie we have the following – Afraid I agree with Jan. The final 10 percent of the book had more impact than the rest of the book put together. I almost felt as if it was a different writer! Sorry I’m a very analytical person and the book was full of holes that would never have kept people safe. Everything happened too easily and successfully. There were so many landmarks in WW2 that could have been used here to portray a sense of reality , all these chances were missed. Having read books like Birdsong about war this felt very light but I was emotional at the end and having visited Auschwitz helped my imagination!
On a positive note Jayne wrote – I really enjoyed the book. I was terrified by the presence of the Nazi’s so felt very differently about it to others. The description of how clothes and furniture had to be used for heat and the daily struggle to get food was awful and I had a real sense of how difficult life must have been. I enjoyed how the book made me wonder throughout whether I’d be the brave sister taking the fight to the Nazis or the docile accepting one who wanted to keep her head down and hope for the best. I decided I would be the latter about half way through. ***** Need to edit this next bit as it is a bit of a spoiler**** I think I mentioned previously my husband’s great-uncle used the escape route out over the Pyrenees. It’s been fascinating to research more of that story and to see the Silver Cross that one of the farmers who hid him gave him when it was time to move on. I probably wouldn’t have got to hear that story if not for the book so I am glad we chose it.
There are some very interesting articles to read about women who put their lives in danger by joining the resistance during Word War 2. I have found some information on three women whose work during WW2 had some links with Vianne and Isabelle. You can click on their names to read about the work they carried out to save the lives of so many people during the war and to whom we owe so much.
Maybe a visit to the Sort Prison Museum is something to add to our travel agenda next time we visit the south of France.
A little more info here for you too.
As usual, we would love to read your comments and thoughts on The Nightingale. Please leave them on our page. Thank you.