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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

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.

©2015 Kristin Hannah (P)2015 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Nightingale

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Nightingale opened my eyes

This book opened my eyes about some of the things happening during wars that we don’t even consider most of the time.
The narration was fantastic.
#Audible1

4 people found this helpful

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enjoyed thoroughly

I enjoyed every aspect of this book. great story and wonderful narration. I highly recommend.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Pam
  • 2018-10-26

Beautiful, I couldn't stop listening.

This is an incredible and heart wrenching story of strength, love and perseverance. A reminder of how truly blessed we are.

3 people found this helpful

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Well written, but just too sad for me.

This was my 4th book by Kristin Hannah, and I think it will be my last. I have found all of her books to be well written, but she has a way of going too far with the sad elements in her stories. I found myself rolling my eyes near the end of this story, because the characters simply have too many hardships to bear. I have read several books that are set in this same time period of WWII, and they all tell very sad and horrible tales. This book in particular though, in my opinion goes too far. That said, the author is very talented, and if you can handle hardship after hardship, it’s a very good book.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

This book was amazing and almost too much. Too thought provoking, too stressful and too emotional. Will not forget it

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A must read

Loved every chaptert. Couldn't stop listening to it. I highly recommend it and they was never a dull moment.

2 people found this helpful

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Solid novel

This was an interesting novel. Character development and plot were very interesting. Enjoyable (well....sad....but well written)

2 people found this helpful

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A must listen

A tale of hope, love and joy amidst one of the world's most dark moments in history. The narration is incredible and beautiful, haunting and filled with passion. A must listen!

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One of the best books I have ever read.

Strong female characters that are very believable in a tragic setting in history. Gut wrenching.

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Excellent story and narration

This is a wonderful book with an important story from WW2 set in France. It is a very human story. The cruelty of man on man during war comes through but doesn’t override the humanity and compassion that also exists in our nature. Highly recommend.

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  • Summer Layne
  • 2019-05-09

Irritating Narration and Trite Writing

The narrator speaks too slowly, and uses a die-away inflection more suited to bedtime stories. Worse still: her strangled attempts at accents. I simply do not understand why English-speaking narrators use accents for non-native English speakers who are NOT speaking English! Why must we listen to hours of French and German accents better suited to the vaudeville stage?

Assuming that the French characters are speaking French - not English - to one another, then it appears obvious to me that accented dialog is ridiculous. The only time it would be appropriate would be if, say, a French character were speaking English in the story. But listening to hour after hour of French women speaking French to each other with French-accented English is absurd. Especially so, if the narrator's accent is cartoonish. Think Pepe le Pew after inhaling helium.

The writing is too self-consciously precious ... far too many words, repeated far too often, in overworked sentences. And the myriad analogies were ridiculously incongruous. Going against the tide here - I know - but, for me, this novel is highly overrated. Perhaps a brisker narration in unaccented English would have masked the insipid writing. But we aren't that lucky.

55 people found this helpful

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  • A Reader
  • 2015-08-21

Heroic & Harrowing Work Of Fiction

I have mixed feelings about this intense work of fiction. This is probably because I have read several books of nonfiction recently about France during WWII and the Vichy Regime. Some of the information presented in this book contradicts the actual history of the time. Additionally, if you know Paris well you will balk at the street locations and distances between places mentioned in the story. I found myself torn about pushing on with the book because of these problems. In the end, I allowed the excellent storytelling to override my concerns and treated the book as a compelling work of fiction.

Polly Stone's narration was really good. Her timing and accents added to the experience of listening. For me, she was a positive, but do listen to the sample because others disagree.

Be forewarned that this story is not for the faint of heart. Women and children in peril, torture, extreme violence and the horrors of war are all strong themes. Hannah's writing captured the emotions and fears of women in war forced to make difficult and impossible decisions. A harrowing, heartbreaking, and terrifying listening experience. If actual historic facts matter to you or if you are disturbed by violence I would proceed with caution.

372 people found this helpful

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  • PatrioticMimi
  • 2015-02-17

HEARTBREAKINGLY POIGNANT AND INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL

There have been many books written about WWII and I have read many of them. For that reason I almost passed up this gem. It's a powerful, thought-provoking look at this horrible time in history from the very intimate perspective of a woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend. It's about impossible choices, strength of the human spirit, endurance beyond imagining and hope. A stark reminder that not only men, but also women, were heroes in that war.

It's a long book, but I never felt it to drag. The narration was very well done. And I found myself wanting to stop along the way to reflect on situations and decisions characters had made and ask myself, "What would you have done?" There are many moral dilemmas in this book, none of which are easy. How far would you go to protect your child?

It was well worth the credit. The best book I've listened to in the past twelve months.

282 people found this helpful

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  • SharynB
  • 2015-11-05

Good story but too repetitive, narration too slow

Would you try another book from Kristin Hannah and/or Polly Stone?

No.

What other book might you compare The Nightingale to and why?

All the light we cannot see. I found this to be a drag, too.

What didn’t you like about Polly Stone’s performance?

She spoke too slowly. This situation was made worse by the fact that the wording was highly repetitive, even within a paragraph. Too much imagery that I felt did not add anything.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe. It IS a good story.

Any additional comments?

The beginning was very slow.

24 people found this helpful

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  • TwinBoyMom
  • 2015-03-11

Wow

Full time doctoral studies and full time work leaves no time for reading. I bought this book on Audible and it would keep me company on my hour commute to and from work. The story line is great-I can identify with Isabel, with her speak before thinking attitude.

I found myself laughing, crying, dropping my jaw in shock and disgust and didn't want to stop listening. I wish the book didn't end.

I highly recommend this book on Audible. The different character voices and current pronunciation of French words was better than I could have attempted!
You won't regret it.

202 people found this helpful

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  • jeanne p smith
  • 2017-09-14

New review

Originally I didn't like this book. I did not like the narrator at all. I stopped listening only to go back. It turned out to be a fabulous book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • K. parkinson
  • 2015-05-18

Beautifully heartbreaking!

This book was not what I was expecting. For some reason I thought this was going to be a romance novel, boy was I wrong! Even though I was wrong about what this book was about, it was an amazing and beautiful novel! I'm grateful I got the experience of this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.

68 people found this helpful

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  • Destry
  • 2015-02-14

Great book

This is a great novel. It does everything a novel is supposed to and leaves you drained at the end. In all three criteria Audible asks for, it is easily five star. Do yourself a favor and don't miss this one. Just a note about Polly Stone the narrator. She is very, very good and maintains a level that matches the quality of the novel. Her work helped make this such a wonderful experience.

98 people found this helpful

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  • Mel
  • 2015-02-14

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.

251 people found this helpful

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  • Irina
  • 2020-11-24

Not for the faint of heart.

I thought I was prepared for anything after I listened to the The Things We Cannot Say and The Tattooist Of Auschwitz. Boy was I wrong. The brutality against women and especially children left me traumatized. Having a Child myself I just couldn’t bear listening to the horrors of mothers being separated from their children.

This is an ok book if you can stomach having permanent images stuck in your head of children suffering, getting shot and being separated their mothers and crying for them. I can’t and wish I wouldn’t have listened to this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • E. Fourie
  • 2020-12-08

Eye opening

At first I thought this book was too sickly sweet and wasn’t sure I’d like it. After giving it a second chance, i became drawn into the story and never looked back. The story told simultaneously by both sisters is raw and personal and your empathize with both of their thoughts and actions - making you wonder what you would do in the same situation. It is an homage to the women’s strength in these inhumanely cruel and unimaginably impossible times. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it’s honest telling of feelings and events that may well have taken place.