March Reads

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Recommended by Rachel

The Nightingale

History is a strong interest of mine, and I've read a great deal about the Second World War, chiefly non-fiction. It is always interesting to explore the impact of the war within a fictionalized framework, and in particular to look at how the war affected non-combatants in general, and women in particular. The Nightingale tells the story of two young women, sisters, who have grown to adulthood in France just as the war begins. The story is told from the perspective of one of the sisters in old age, and the author has chosen to use the conceit of not revealing just which one of the sisters is telling the story until late in the book. While I'm not sure I agreed with this decision (what? The war itself wasn't interesting enough?), I did enjoy the book, particularly the last half onward, and I am very glad that Rachel recommended it to me.

Reading The Nightingale gave me the opportunity to think again about a truly stunning book I read and loved last year, and I can't recommend it highly enough to those who also read and enjoyed The Nightingale. The book is Suite française by Irène Némirovsky (translated by Sandra Smith), and it is so powerful and moving. This astonishing work was set at the exact time frame outlined in the first part of Hannah's work, also in France. The difference? Nemirvosky wrote it in France as the war and fall of France happened around her. And as a Jewish woman, the outcome for her was dire, echoing the fate of a character in The Nightingale. Her children survived through the help of loving friends, and one of them kept the scraps of paper on which the work was written. Thinking it was a diary, the daughter didn't have the heart to read it until decades later. Upon publication, it was received with well-deserved acclaim.

Although The Nightingale does suffer somewhat in comparison to the much stronger Suite française, both are definitely worth reading. Let me know what you think.

I'm looking forward to more suggestions of what books you love that you'd like me to read next.

Get your copy of The Nightingale today.