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I'm Kayla. A 20-something obsessed with beauty, planner decorating, and baking. Working towards a more organized, simplified life one post at a time.


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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah | Book Talk


One thing I've always wanted to do is join a book club. An in person, sit around and chat about the book while interacting with people in real life, book club. Just a few months after we moved into this neighborhood, one started up. So expect a lot more book reviews coming your way as I traverse the world of book clubs. Starting with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

The historical novel takes place during World War II in France. It follows the life of two young sisters. The oldest, Vianne, has a young daughter while Isabelle, nineteen, is a carefree spirit who seeks out trouble. The story starts out before the war, or at least before it hits France. We quickly learn about the hardships these two girls have already faced. They lose their mother to sickness and their father to grief and the after-affects of being in World War I. Then the Germans invade France and nothing is the same.

In an effort to avoid spoilers, the story is ultimately about two sisters trying to survive the war in two very different ways. One faces it head on, becoming involved in resistance movements and danger at every turn. The other keeps her head down and tries to keep things as normal as possible, despite having soldiers living in her home. Vianne and Isabelle can hardly agree on anything and are constantly battling a similar past and dreams of different futures. Yet as the war progresses they find themselves not so different after all.

What I loved most about this book besides the great storyline and character development is how it made me see World War II. We've heard about it in school and have gone to museums honoring the ones lost, but I never felt overly connected. This novel, although fiction, made the war seem more alive than ever before for me. The horrific acts can be read about first hand in a gritty, down-to-earth way that doesn't over-glorify them or try to put a silver lining on them.

There isn't necessarily a happy ending to the novel either, which I like It makes it that much more realistic that way that even though the characters may (or may not have) survived the war, there wasn't a happy ending for them. Things didn't just shift back to how things were before the war. In some ways things were worse after the war as everyone tries to pick up the pieces to a broken life. Hannah didn't make the novel easy on readers. She kept it truthful and dark which made it that much more powerful.

It's a story of redemption, of perseverance and battling more demons than just the ones in uniform. It's about love when there couldn't possibly be any and maintaining hope in spite of everything. We definitely started off our book club with a story seriously thick with meaning, relevance, and the kind of topics that don't easily leave you once you close the back cover. 

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