I feel like I’ve been on a streak of reading 3 1/2 star books. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was my book club selection for August. It was good, I enjoyed it, but I have to say that I was disappointed. It is the story of two sisters living in France during WWII. Vianne, the older, lives in a small french village, trying to protect her home and her daughter from the horrors of war. The younger, Isabelle, joins the french resistance.
Kristin Hannah is generally considered a chick-lit author. Her fiction writing is solid, but on the light side and usually with a strong emphasis on relationships. People assured me that this book definitely was a lot more than chick-lit. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE chick-lit, I like reading books that many consider light and fluffy. Chick-lit books are the Hallmark movies of the literary world, and I like watching Hallmark movies. But when you are expecting Masterpiece Theater and you get the Hallmark channel, it is disappointing.
When I read good historical fiction, I am left with the feeling that the author must have really done their research – whether or not this is actually true; I feel immersed in the story and I feel like I have learned something about the place and/or time period of the book. With The Nightingale, I felt that Hannah had told a fine story about these two sisters, but that it could have happened anywhere, any time, any war.
We had a pretty good discussion of the book at book club. We all enjoyed it and I saved my ‘disappointed’ comments for the latter part of the meeting when they were well received and didn’t just put a damper on the rest of the discussion. There were only four of us, but I thought it was one of the more pleasant books club meetings that we’ve had in a while. Now if we could only get a few more people to show up…
I would confidently recommend this book to just about anyone…as long as they enjoy a good Hallmark movie every once in a while.