Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah has been the book for a long time. Surely everyone had read it, but I continued to resist. All the hype was a deterrent, but the plot summary didn't interest me either. Why read yet another WWII novel?

Last year the Ford Audiobook Club on Goodreads - now know simply as Audiobook Club, since Ford ended its sponsorship - provided many members with a free audio edition of The Nightingale. I received one of the complimentary copies (thank you, Ford!), listened to the first fifteen or twenty minutes (twice) and decided I still wasn't in the mood for a WWII novel. Also, I associated Kristin Hannah with lighter women's fiction, and wasn't interested in that either. Several months later, the ebook was featured as a kindle daily deal. Since I enjoy a good read/listen combination, taking advantage of that offer wasn't even a question.

But still I waited...

A few months later, The Nightingale  won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for historical fiction. And then at the Audie Awards in May 2016, it won the fiction award.

The time had come.

The Nightingale tells the story of the women's war...of "two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women."  (read the full summary here)

As expected, the narration was excellent; Polly Stone certainly deserved the Audie. But the first half of the novel was slow - it took me nearly a week to reach the 50% mark. At that point, things changed and I raced through the second half in less than twenty-four hours. So real, so emotional... I could not put it down. And since there are already so many reviews out there, I'll just leave it at that.

A couple of quotes:
Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over. 
If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.
Bottom line:
Despite a slow start, The Nightingale is historical fiction at its finest.

My rating:

41 comments:

  1. My sister loves Hannah's books but says they should come with a box of tissues.

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    1. Kathy - This is definitely a book where you 'feel all the feels'.

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  2. I haven't read anything by Kristin Hannah but I've been wanting too. I love the time period this is set in and have been wanting to read it. I'll definitely have to add this to my audio list.

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    1. Katherine - I think audio is the way to go with The Nightingale.

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  3. Well gosh, now I guess I have to stop resisting as well!

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    1. Jill - It really was an exciting read/listen.

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  4. I used to read Kristin Hannah when she first moved to women's contemporary fiction (from romance) and read all those early books. After a long drought I just picked up Firefly Lane as recommended by a friend. Glad you enjoyed this one.

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    1. Rita - I probably haven't read Hannah since the romance days. Wonder if her next novel will be historical fiction, too.

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  5. Couldn't agree with you more! I have it on audio when I'm ready for a reread. Love the quotes you shared! Now you need to read City of Thieves if you haven't already. (Sorry. Too lazy to go check my review for that to see if you said you'd read it.)

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    1. Oh, oh, oh! I loved The City of Thieves!

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    2. Les - Guess City of Thieves is going on my list!

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  6. I sometimes get bogged down in slow beginnings ... and quit. It makes me wonder how many great endings I've missed. :)

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  7. I am so glad this ended up being a great listen for you! It was on my favorite of the year list.

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    1. Nise' - The audio was excellent. Why did I put it off for so long??

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  8. Ha! We are a lot alike. Since I didn't get a free audiobook and missed the daily deal special, looks like it will be more time before I get to this - BUT, it IS on my tbr!

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    1. Care - If I miss a daily deal, I hate to pay full price later!!

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    1. Patty - It was much better than I expected.

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  10. Why read another WWII novel is exactly what I have thought; this, from a reader who just this month read All The Light We Cannot See. But, like you, I keep hearing fantastic thing of this book, and I know I will pick it up sooner or later.

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    1. Bellezza - I've borrowed All The Light We Cannot See from the library twice. The first time I never even started it and barely read ten pages the second... suppose I should give it one more chance.

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  11. I've had the same thoughts about Kristin Hannah so I am glad to hear that you loved this book despite the slow start. I don't read a lot of historical fiction but have enjoyed the ones I read. However, I didn't have much success with the only Kristin Hannah book I read long ago (can't remember the title) so maybe it is time to try another of her books.

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    1. Athira - Maybe Hannah has moved from women's fiction to historical fiction. I'll be curious to see what she writes next.

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  12. Wow what a powerful quote. I'll see if our library carry this audio book. Thanks for posting.

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    1. Arti - The narration is excellent. Hope you get a chance to listen.

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  13. My neighbor keeps telling me to read this but I haven't been in the mood for WWII.

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    1. Beth F - That's exactly how I felt...

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  14. I've put off reading this one for a year and still am not sure I'm ready. Every time I plan to start it, the timing is off. Maybe this will be the year. I'm happy to see you enjoyed it because I've been curious as to whether it will meet the hype for me.

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    1. Kathy - A lot of people seem put off/burnt out by WWII books lately... I certainly was.

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  15. I'll eventually get to it -- and stop resisting too. thanks for the word.

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    1. Susan - Hope you are pleasantly surprised, too :)

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  16. Glad you enjoyed the novelJoAnn. Hannah is an eloquent writer.

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    1. Pat - The Nightingale was a bit of a surprise for me. I didn't expect to enjoy it that much.

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  17. I'm so glad you posted your review. I think I've been in your shoes because I've been sort of resisting this one too. I'm glad to hear that it lived up to the hype and it is going on my list.

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    1. Iliana - Now that the hype has mostly died down, maybe more readers will give it a chance.

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  18. I finally read/listened to the book earlier this year for book club. I put it off for the same reason you did, However, once I got into it I was really sorry I'd waited so long. I love the quotes you shared.

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    1. Thanks, Margot. I don't know why I stubbornly resisted this book for so long.

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  19. I haven't read this for the same reasons you had put it off. Clearly I need to get over my hesitation.

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    1. Lisa - The first half was really slow, but the second half was a page-turner!

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  20. I agree. The audiobook had me in tears on the way home, and provided great discussion to my book club. I still think about the story.

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    1. Laura - I'm not surprised the audio won the fiction award... it was so perfectly done. i thought this would be a good choice for book club, but most of the members have already read it.

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