The Nightingale

  • by Kristin Hannah
  • Narrated by Polly Stone
  • 17 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Fiction, 2016
In 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.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, February 2015 - I haven't listened to a book as moving or as heart-wrenching as The Nightingale in a long time. Set in France during WWII, Kristin Hannah's tale follows two sisters as they fight against the Nazis in very different, but equally important, ways. The young, vivacious, and impetuous Isabelle believes she has little in common with her older sister, Vianne, but the two possess a bravery and willful determination that few could match. Hannah’s novel kept me engaged with brief, mysterious sojourns to the 1990s amidst her 1940s narrative, effortlessly traveling between the United States, Paris, and the French countryside. This story has stayed with me all year, and I’m thrilled that it’s Audible’s Best Book of 2015. —Katie, Audible Editor

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Like Nails on A Chalkboard! AWFUL!

First off- I love Kristin Hannah. I have enjoyed her books thoroughly over the years. In fact, I have loved every single one I've read- with no exaggeration. The story of the Nightingale is probably no different- about two girls in Paris growing up during the war, and their struggles. Hannah has a knack for addictive characters and drawing empathy from her readers- which is why we all love her and her novels.

That being said, I am going to have to return this book and buy the novel instead.

This is the most annoying narrator I have ever listened to. I have probably listened to over 300 audible books or more- and I have listened to some pretty bad narrators- but this by far is the worst.

She pronounces the letter S like a snake. Ssssssssssssssssssssssstop doing thisssssssssssssss to me! I always fall asleep lissssstening but I actually had to download another book. It was horrible! She also sounds ridiculous when she does a French accent- I literally wanted to cry I was so disappointed.

I don't know who produced this, but Hannah will lose money on this audible book unless they change the author and fix it. It's absolutely dreadful and I am so disappointed. I had pre-ordered this book and was so looking forward to it!

As I said, the story is probably very good but the narrator ruins it and makes it absolutely unbearable- like nails on a chalkboard.

Urgh.
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- Wendi "Canadian girl in Kansas, love audible, books on kindle or kindle fire, and old fashioned books! I enjoy fiction most, mostly books with strong female leads. Favourite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus III, Lisa Genova, many more!"

A bird that roared


After reading the publisher's summary in Audible's *Featured Pre-Orders,* I was drawn to The Nightingale -- I have an obsession with the history of early twentieth century France, particularly the Inter War period and the few years after WWII. Unfamiliar with Hannah's body of work, I read that her oeuvre was *female fiction,* repeatedly compared to other authors I have chosen not to read. That translated to concern that I would be disappointed with the author, and by a book that inaccurately used history to piggy back on a saccharine love story. Not what I was looking for.

It was this line from the Kirkus Review that perfectly addressed my worries and sold me on this book: "Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II." Hannah's skillful writing, and forceful story telling ability quickly became apparent and convinced me The Nightingale was a perfect choice.

As the story begins, the reader knows only that the novel is about two disparate sisters during the WWII Nazi occupation of France. From one of those sisters, now placed in a nursing home in Oregon, USA, the tale of survival is unraveled, but which surviving sister narrates the history remains unknown until the novel's end...and I hung onto the book until that ending and wished the story could've gone on.

Sisters Vianne and Isabelle are polar opposites, even in their individual strengths: Vianne is compassionate with the strengths we know as *a mother's-love,* wise and thoughtful; while the younger Isabelle is defiant, fearless, and recklessly brave -- opposites, but equally formidable. Each of their paths are harrowing and absorbing. On the home-front, Vianne must protect her daughter while fighting starvation, freezing winters, and the degradation from German soldiers. In silent horror, she watches as her friends and neighbors are branded with the Jewish star, then gathered into wagons and trains, often leaving infants behind alone. Even a rumor started from jealousy, or a false accusation can be deathly under the brutal Gestapo's presence. Young and compulsive, Isabelle defies the occupation openly until an event brings soldiers too close to their home. She realizes that for the protection of Vianne and her daughter, she must flee. She joins the Resistance and becomes a guide secretly transporting injured Allied airmen over the Pyrenees into Spain. [Isabelle's surname, Rossignol, is the French word for nightingale.]

Having read my share of French history, I was impressed with the historical accuracy of the story (though this was in part a love story that added little more than some quasi-romance). Many of the events were echoes of history books I've read and it was gratifying to see that Hannah did not treat the civilians as *landscape* and marginalize those poor souls caught in the crossfire of war. This was a riveting story, excellently told and narrated well (I will leave the accuracy of the French accent to those more knowledgeable than my HS French; it did not impede the story for me). It is worth mentioning that though this is fiction, Hannah said her idea for the story was ignited by a real incident she read about...and there are too many real incidents out there, both historical and current.
Recommend.

**It is estimated that 350,00 French civilians died during the German occupation, not from bombs or fighting, but from: crimes against humanity, famine, disease and "military acting out." This war preceded Article 27 of the Geneva Convention; females were considered *carnal booty.* Since 1949 Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits wartime rape and enforced prostitution. In a speech to the United nations Security Council in 2008, Retired Major General Patrick Cammart stated,
“It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.” Sadly, we haven't made much progress.

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- Mel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-03-2015
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio