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.