7 Feb 2017


Not always able to get hold of a copy of the book that they are reading, I was delighted that not only had I previously read last month's book, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (see my post here, Kelly's, here) BUT that I was able to reserve a copy of this months book which actually came in plenty of time for me to read and review ...


BACK COVER BLURB: Bravery, courage, fear and love in a time of war.

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their child. But when the Second World War breaks out and Antoine is conscripted to fight, Isabelle is sent to the country by their father to help Vianne.

As war develops, the strength of the sisters' relationship is tested. With life changing, and confronted by unbelievable horrors, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves responding in ways they never thought possible, as bravery and resistance take differing forms in each of the two sisters.

FIRST SENTENCE {ONE ~ APRIL 9, 1995, THE OREGON COAST}: 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. 

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 267}: Rachel stood in the black, yawning entrance of a cattle car, her face and hands still smeared with her daughter's blood. She scanned the crowd, saw Vianne, and raised her bloody hand in the air, and then she was gone, shoved back by the women stumbling in around her. The door to the cattle car clanged shut.

SOURCE: A library book.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: First things first, why oh why the minute print?

Though I can't obviously comment on every edition, the size of print in this 2015 Pan edition was ridiculously small.

OK, so perhaps not ALL of the themes/situations covered in The Nightingale (it is after all an epic novel, its 400 plus pages packing in a lot of history) will have featured in every book of its kind but nevertheless I didn't find anything here that I hadn't read in countless other books. 

Set largely in the small French village in which Vianne resides, for such a rural village there did seemed to be an awful lot occurring, including a lot of SS 'top brass' stomping around - indeed, as a friend of mine who was reading the book at the same time commented, she was only surprised that Hitler himself wasn't billeted with Vianne and her daughter at some point.

In fact, all rather cliched. The author's writing cleverly if blatantly (I'd argue perhaps too blatantly) calculated to elicit certain responses (typically that of sadness or anger) rather than letting the author explore their own feelings.

Though told from the point of view of the two sisters (and therefore jumping around in both time and place) essentially the plot was easy enough to follow. The sisters, and in particular some of their actions, however didn't always ring true, at times seeming contrived merely as a way of manipulating the reader in much the same way the eliciting of certain emotions did.

Why then (to use GoodReads star rating system) my rating of 4 stars/'I really enjoyed it'?

A sucker for this genre. 

Despite my misgivings, there are no two ways about it, if not necessarily the best of writers of this kind of fiction, a good story-teller. I found myself totally caught up in Vianne's and Isabelle's world, moved by their plight, as well as that, of course, of their family, friends and co-conspirators. 

PLEASE NOTE ... As always please be sure to look out for Kelly's review which she typically posts the day after the group meets which is tonight.


Kelly said...

I think you summed it up well in your last paragraph. Despite being rather 'over the top', I found it very easy to read and enjoyed it quite a bit.

So glad you were able to join in with us this month!

Sherry Ellis said...

It sounds like an interesting story-line. Too bad things were a little more contrived than they should have been.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I added this one to my list just the other day, after a fellow Goodreads blogger recommended it highly.

I haven't read anything by this author before and I'm not sure that all her books entirely grab my attention.

However, the first lines which you shared from 'The Nightingale', were probably enough to have me hooked.

Thanks for sharing your review, both the good and not-so-good points, you always manage to remain very even-handed with your comments :)


Mary (Bookfan) said...

I have a kindle edition so after reading your comment on the print size I'm glad I have an option to change that on the kindle! I look forward to reading it after reading your review!

Suko said...

Tracy, I'm gladd you enjoyed this, despite the hard-to-see print.
Wonderful review!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sounds like a good story but not necessarily the BEST written. Thanks for sharing!

Gina R said...

Huh...sounds like despite the misgivings along the way, you liked it. Sweet! Funny though, some of the things you pointed out, I've heard before regarding this author's writing. Happy reading!

Anonymous said...

After reading your nuanced review
I am still uncertain about this
book, and will wait until I have
read Kelly's review before I
decide to add the book to my list.

Melliane said...

despite some little points, it's nice to see you were caught by the story, it's always a really interesting topic

Brian Joseph said...

I understand your high rating despite the book's flaws. Sometimes certain elements of a novel are just appealing, despite other shortcomings.

There is something about occupied France that always seems to fascinate.

With that, there are certain kinds of books where plausibility is very important. That could be a deal breaker for me.

Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Tracy, half way through your review I was absolutely sure I wouldn’t be reading this. A bit further on I was thinking well maybe and by the end, I was convinced I HAD to read it. I will remember the small print issue though and hope the library has something other than the 2015 Pan edition.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

As long as you get caught up in the story, I can usually adjust to the print size. Even large print throws me for a bit. Brilly review!

Natasha Hill said...

Oooh this is an intriguing one! I like it when there's a story you can really lose yourself in, despite all it's misgivings, so I will have to keep an eye out for this and give it a go if I find it, it does sound interesting. - Tasha

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I had to laugh when I saw your reason for giving it four stars. I am also a sucker for this time period and genre. I can see getting pulled into the story. I just finished Lilac Girls which is also set during WWII and you follow three women (one in the USA, one in Poland, and one in Germany).

Literary Feline said...

I have a copy of this one on my shelf, but admit I haven't read it yet. The size is part of the reason. I am sure I will like it though as I usually do enjoy these types of books.