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The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Reviewed by L. Bennett

Kristin Hannah's novel is a tightly focused story of two sisters who put their lives at great risk to do what they believe is right. Each grows from childhood to womanhood under the banners of Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The separate journeys made by the sisters are equally harrowing but different. One, known as The Nightingale, smuggles Allied airmen out of occupied France and the other works independently to rescue Jewish children. Neither really knows what the other does and therefore they cannot incriminate one another when questioned and tortured by the Germans.

The writing is carefully constructed, introducing suspense and drama as easily as it exposes love and honor. The settings are described with sufficient detail that the reader has little difficulty envisioning, hearing, and smelling the scenes of death, decay, and ravage that engulfed France. While moments of affection and friendship are less frequent, they are no less evocative.

I would like to tell you it was a good read, and it was. But it was also hard to read given the similar situations of war, hate, and deprivation that penetrate our view of the world today. Still, put it on your to-read list.

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