“In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” (first sentences) I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It was the Budapest book club’s February read. I got the hardcover copy of it because it is a relatively new book. (It came out last year. It’s still weird to say 2015 was last year) If you haven’t looked at that book, you should. It’s beautiful. I was impartial when I first saw it but the more I look at it, the more I love you. I might actually love the inside covers more with that map. Okay, now that I’ve talked to the appearance, let’s start with the actual book. There will be spoilers. I can’t help it. I liked this book way too much.
Let’s start talking about the family. The girls couldn’t start out more different and I liked that. It reminds me of a lot of real life relationships. Isabelle was so much more radical than Vianne. They are both very flawed, both stubborn. Especially Isabelle. But I think that’s because she was a lot younger than Vianne. Vianne did become a rebel in her own way. She also saved people’s lives. At one point I wrote that I had gained respect for Isabelle and lost some for Vianne. But I think I regained respect and respected both of them equally at the end. But I really like the flaws.
Then you add the father element into the story. Crap. That man was something else. First, I hated him because he pretty much abandoned his daughters and drank himself silly. At one point, I wondered if he were a horrible person that got there after time or a horrible person due to circumstances of war and losing his wife. Then he started working with the Nazis. Which made my opinion of him go down but then shit man. He turns into a good man. He not only is like a double agent kind of guy, he dies for his daughter. I mean, way to bring yourself back into my good graces.
I did get confused for a while because I didn’t know French so I didn’t know that the German and French word for aunt are spelled the same. Sophie would say Tante Isabelle and I wondered why she was using the German word she should be using the French word but she was using the French word. But I looked it up. They’re spelled the same, I just don’t know how to pronounce the French word. Something I feel like I missed was what exactly happened with Isabelle? Did she die so that she didn’t end up with what’s his face at the end? It might have said it at some place but I may have missed it. If you’ve read it and you caught it, let me know.
I did have a few oh crap moments. First was when their name actually means Nightingale. Everything ties in. When Ari was taken away at the end it got to me because he was a little kid and was being well taken cared for and loved why take him away, and then when he came up to Vianne at the end of the book. At first I thought they had changed Ari’s name again and were calling him Julian and that’s the son Vianne was talking to. Nope. I loved that Ari found her at the end of the book. That whole last section was amazing. I could not have loved it more. And then when Vianne had to turn in Rachel. I may have mentally yelled at my book at that point. P.S. So much respect for Rachel because she lost a child. I haven’t experienced that but I know it can’t be easy. Then she barely survives the concentration camp. Sad. Tore my heart
We should talk about Captain Beck. If he would have lived, what would have really happened? Would he have been Julian’s real father? She legitimately liked him and you thought that they would get together. I feel like with Captain Beck around, Vianne was sketchier about things. He let her communicate with her husband, or made it happen. I think it was him trying to even out all the bad things that were happening on the accord of his government/leader. After the murder, you feel how scared they are, you feel it several times throughout the book, but there stood out to me. The aftermath felt real to me. I didn’t hate Captain Beck and I think that was the point. I wanted to hate him because he was a Nazi and they took the house from Vianne but he was decent. He was trying to be decent. But I did hate the next guy.
I think we should talk about how people dealt with war. There was the keep your head down and let’s do something mentality represented by each sister. You understand on each part because Isabelle is young and a go getter and Vianne is a mother and wants to protect her daughter. I feel like Vianne struggled more with what’s right and what’s wrong. Both women, and in actual war, you have to deal with what your idea of patriotism is. And both women did. I also like that at one point in this book they talked about how a generation was lost in the war and it’s true. So many died that a generation was pretty much lost. Even those who were affected mentally. The father in this book was a perfect example of that. He came back and wasn’t really fully there until the end of the book.
If you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I whizzed through it. It kept my attention. I felt it was well written and the story was well woven. I also like that the love element in this book was not romantic love it was a familial love. I would have still been okay with the book if it had a romantic love but I would have rolled my eyes.
Things I wrote down or liked:
Men always think war is about them (pg. 146)
We remember the missing as much as the lost, don’t we? (page 265)
Humiliated men could be dangerous. (page 288)
She was so tired of begging people to love her (page 302)
“She killed a man? WHAT!?!?!” said by me.
“She killed Kenny.” Said by me. I don’t know why. I don’t even watch South Park.