The Nightingale

Book & Author

nightingaleIn love we find out who we want to be.

In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime. (From the Publisher)

Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including Winter Garden, Night Road, and the blockbuster Firefly Lane which sold over 1.2 million copies.
KristinHannah
Her novels Home Front and Night Road were among the first novels to appear in the #1 spot on 5 New York Times bestseller lists simultaneously. Home Front has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to write, produce, and direct.

Kristin’s highly anticipated new release, The Nightingale, will be published on February 3, 2015 (St. Martin’s Press). The novel –an epic love story and family drama set in France at the dawn of World War II–is a profound and compelling portrait of two estranged sisters, living in a city under siege and a country at war, where sometimes surviving means doing the unthinkable.
www.kristinhannah.com

 

Quote from the book:

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

“I know that grief, like regret, settles into our DNA and remains forever a part of us.”

 

Discuss

The Nightingale opens with an intriguing statement that lays out one of the major themes of the book: “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” What do you think the narrator means by this? Is love the ideal and war the reality? How does war change the way these characters love? How does love influence their actions in the war? On a personal level, has love affected your life choices? Have those choices affected who and how you love?

Take a moment to talk about the narrative structure of The Nightingale. Why do you think Kristin Hannah chose to keep the narrator’s identity a secret in the beginning and end of the novel? Were you surprised by who it turned out to be? Did you go back and reread the beginning of the novel once you finished? Were you satisfied when you discovered who was narrating the novel?

Enhance

“Vianne set down the platter.  A delicious fragrance wafted upward – roasted pork and crispy bacon and apples glazed in a rich wine sauce, resting on a bed of browned potatoes.  Beside it was a bowl of fresh peas, swimming in butter seasoned with tarragon from the garden.  And of course there was the baguette Vianne had made yesterday morning.”

Consider hosting dinner party for your book discussion and include foods that would have been eaten during that time period.  Don’t forget the macarons!

Interact

This day and age compelling stories and popular books are turned into movies. Should The Nightingale be turned into a movie?  Discuss why or why not in the comments.