Here’s the story. I started reading The Nightingale when it first came out last year, and closed it before I even reached the halfway point. But now, a year later, my book club picked this as one of the selections and because I am a dutiful member, I checked it out from the library, again, and trudged through it. The second time around, I still don’t see what all the hype is about. I am not a fan of Kristin Hannah as a writer. The characters lack depth and passion. There is so much emphasis on what everyone is doing, that there is a notable absence of why they are taking the action and how those actions make them feel. There was very little insight into what any of these characters thought or felt, which for me is the very essence of what makes a good historical novel set in World War II. As for the plot, I found it to be beyond predictable and over done.
Isabelle balked at taking personal responsibility in her life and eagerly became a spy in the resistance. Yawn. How many times has that been done? To do it again, there has to be a good story of terror and espionage, none of which was present here. The other sister, Vianne, played the dutiful wife worried at home with her daughter forced to share her table with a German soldier billeted in her home. She submitted so easily that it was just unbelievable. The Parisian setting was the only high point of this novel for me because it reminded me of my travels there.
Better WWII books with strong protagonists who displayed themselves to be heroes and truly defied the Germans include: Finding Rebecca, The Paris Architect, and The Girl You Left Behind. Instead of getting caught up in the hype for this book, I suggest reading one of those absolutely amazing novels.