The Nightingale is a book I’ve read very recently and I’m glad I did. It’s set in Paris, France during World War II and is about two estranged sisters who are complete opposites. Vianne, the older sister, is cautious, obedient, and will do anything it takes to keep her family safe, even if it’s swallowing her pride and allowing people to trample on her. Isabelle, at only eighteen years of age, is impetuous, rebellious, and will always fight for what she believes in and take a stand no matter what is at stake.
After the Nazis invade France and the country is in a state of complete distress, the way these two completely different individuals respond to it is what comprises the story. Vianne’s husband has gone off to fight in the war and she is left with no choice but to accept it when a Nazi officer must stay at her home, as rebellion has terrible consequences. Isabelle dismisses this and decides to join the French Resistance, putting her life in danger countless times.
While the theme of a dysfunctional family is shown clearly throughout the book, I think the most important theme is the war that isn’t talked about enough in World War II: the Women’s War. This book shows the war that women had to fight and since sexism was a lot stronger back in the 1930s, the female characters that try to make a difference are constantly doubted because of their gender. Nevertheless, the women do not give up and feminism is promoted a lot, which is a very strong message.
I really enjoyed this book because the plot was very captivating and I flew through it since I just wanted to know what would happen. It definitely makes you feel a lot of sympathy towards the people living in France and helps you to understand history better and more meaningfully. When reading this book and knowing that these things actually happened, history became more than just a bunch of people in a textbook who died. They became actual people who you care about. When you learn that people died in a war that happened ages ago, it’s easy to not actually take that in just because it happened so long ago. When it’s in a fictional book though, it becomes more real and you better understand how it must have felt when it was actually happening.
Also, by reading this book it can really help the facts of World War II stick in to your head better than by trying to memorize it off of your notes. So maybe reading this book will help you on your history test! Who knows, right? (You still have to study though, unfortunately.)
I would definitely recommend this book, although, for people who can’t handle a lot of sad things, if you think it will be too hard to stomach, then the book may not be for you. It’s especially great for history buffs though!