Confession: I judged a book by its cover.
Man, was I ever wrong.
Last year when Kristin Hannah’s THE NIGHTINGALE came out, I looked at it in the bookstore and passed on it. I knew it was historical. But I assumed by the title that it had something to do with nurses in World War II.
And then I saw an elderly man at lunch earlier this summer. He was alone in an Italian restaurant. His only lunch companion was THE NIGHTINGALE. And he was enraptured.
Later that day, I finished the nonfiction book I was reading and needed something else to read.
I went back to the bookstore to revisit this Kristin Hannah title. It was a new release as a trade paperback and had prominent placement on an end-cap display.
The back cover blurb was okay.
But the first couple pages reeled me in.
The book title is linked to Amazon. There are no spoilers ahead–except maybe to say this book has nothing to do with nurses.
Two sisters growing up in Paris lose their mother when they are quite young. Their father sends them away–he is ill-equipped to deal with being a single-father.
The elder sister finds young love and moves on with her life in a traditional manner, but the younger sister is rebellious and is kicked out of every boarding school on the map.
Now the sisters, estranged and separated by age and fate as it were, find their lives at stake when Germany marches into France and takes it for the glory of Hitler.
Vianne and Isabelle are in for hell on earth that few of us today can even imagine.
This novel is an epic that covers the years shortly before WWII all the way to the present day. It is rich with historical details and beautifully written.
The characters are based on real people who rose to heroism in the face of death time and time again. The characters are so fully developed that they linger in the reader’s mind for some time after finishing the story.
This is probably the best book I’ve read in the last year. I could not put it down and despite the length, it is a fast, gorgeous, page-turner.
Even if you, like me, seldom pick up historical novels, this one is well worth the purchase or the waiting list at the library. Riveting.
Foxy Rating: Five out of Five Foxes
Happy reading, friends!