Review by Frankie
Who doesn’t love a good cry? The Nightingale follows the story of Vianne Mauriac, a wife and mother living in a small village of France during World War II. She struggles to keep herself and her daughter fed and warm while her husband is at the front lines of the war, and the Nazis occupy her town. Circumstances turn for the worst when she loses her teaching job and the food coupons allotted to her yield very little for sustenance.
As the war rages on and pressures mount, Vianne is forced to make decisions she never thought possible. She is torn between what is safe, and what is right. Her best friend and neighbor is a Jew. Her own sister is working with the Resistance. Even her home is now housing a German officer.
The strong female characters in this novel are inspiring. It’s a look at what the women “back home” endured while the men were away at war. It’s a haunting visual of the realities of life as a mother or wife during the German occupation. To be a woman, meant you had to fight your own war, in a very personal way. These are the tales that you don’t read about in history class, and they’re no less courageous. To quote from the book:
“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
The novel isn’t all dark and gloomy. This story is laced with beautiful love stories, unbreakable friendships, and huge feats of courage and victory. The Nightingale is dreary. It’s somber, and it’s also one of the loveliest books I’ve ever read.