The Nightingale: A Novel

Hardcover | February 3, 2015

byKristin Hannah

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#1 New York Times bestseller

Named a best book of the year by: Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library Journal, Paste, self.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Week

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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From the Publisher

#1 New York Times bestsellerNamed a best book of the year by: Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library Journal, Paste, self.com, The Wall Street Journal, The WeekIn love we find out who we want to be.In war we find out who we are.FRANCE, 1939In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Fr...

KRISTIN HANNAH is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels. A former lawyer turned writer, she is the mother of one son and live with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 9.43 × 6.31 × 1.42 inPublished:February 3, 2015Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312577222

ISBN - 13:9780312577223

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ONEApril 9, 1995The Oregon CoastIf 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. Today’syoung people want to know everything about everyone. They think talkingabout a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. Weunderstand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.Lately, though, I find myself thinking about the war and my past, aboutthe people I lost.Lost.It makes it sound as if I misplaced my loved ones; perhaps I left themwhere they don’t belong and then turned away, too confused to retracemy steps.They are not lost. Nor are they in a better place. They are gone. As Iapproach the end of my years, I know that grief, like regret, settles intoour DNA and remains forever a part of us.I have aged in the months since my husband’s death and my diagnosis.My skin has the crinkled appearance of wax paper that someone has triedto flatten and reuse. My eyes fail me often— in the darkness, when headlightsflash, when rain falls. It is unnerving, this new unreliability in myvision. Perhaps that’s why I find myself looking backward. The past has aclarity I can no longer see in the present.I want to imagine there will be peace when I am gone, that I will see allof the people I have loved and lost. At least that I will be forgiven.I know better, though, don’t I?My house, named The Peaks by the lumber baron who built it over a hundredyears ago, is for sale, and I am preparing to move because my sonthinks I should.He is trying to take care of me, to show how much he loves me in thismost difficult of times, and so I put up with his controlling ways. What doI care where I die? That is the point, really. It no longer matters where Ilive. I am boxing up the Oregon beachside life I settled into nearly fiftyyears ago. There is not much I want to take with me. But there is onething.I reach for the hanging handle that controls the attic steps. The stairsunfold from the ceiling like a gentleman extending his hand.The flimsy stairs wobble beneath my feet as I climb into the attic, whichsmells of must and mold. A single, hanging lightbulb swings overhead. I pullthe cord.It is like being in the hold of an old steamship. Wide wooden plankspanel the walls; cobwebs turn the creases silver and hang in skeins fromthe indentation between the planks. The ceiling is so steeply pitched thatI can stand upright only in the center of the room.I see the rocking chair I used when my grandchildren were young, thenan old crib and a ratty- looking rocking horse set on rusty springs, and thechair my daughter was refinishing when she got sick. Boxes are tuckedalong the wall, marked “Xmas,” “Thanksgiving,” “Easter,” “Halloween,”“Serveware,” “Sports.” In those boxes are the things I don’t use much anymorebut can’t bear to part with. For me, admitting that I won’t decorate atree for Christmas is giving up, and I’ve never been good at letting go.Tucked in the corner is what I am looking for: an ancient steamer trunkcovered in travel stickers.With effort, I drag the heavy trunk to the center of the attic, directlybeneath the hanging light. I kneel beside it, but the pain in my knees ispiercing, so I slide onto my backside.For the first time in thirty years, I lift the trunk’s lid. The top tray is fullof baby memorabilia. Tiny shoes, ceramic hand molds, crayon drawingspopulated by stick figures and smiling suns, report cards, dance recitalpictures.I lift the tray from the trunk and set it aside.The mementos in the bottom of the trunk are in a messy pile: severalfaded leather- bound journals; a packet of aged postcards, tied togetherwith a blue satin ribbon; a cardboard box, bent in one corner; a set of slimbooks of poetry by Julien Rossignol; and a shoebox that holds hundreds ofblack- and- white photographs.On top is a yellowed, faded piece of paper.My hands are shaking as I pick it up. It is a carte d’identité, an identitycard, from the war. I see the small, passport- sized photo of a youngwoman. Juliette Gervaise.“Mom?”I hear my son on the creaking wooden steps, footsteps that match myheartbeats. Has he called out to me before?“Mom? You shouldn’t be up here. Shit. The steps are unsteady.” Hecomes to stand beside me. “One fall and—”I touch his pant leg, shake my head softly. I can’t look up. “Don’t” is allI can say.He kneels, then sits. I can smell his aftershave, something subtle andspicy, and also a hint of smoke. He has sneaked a cigarette outside, a habithe gave up de cades ago and took up again at my recent diagnosis. Thereis no reason to voice my disapproval: He is a doctor. He knows better.My instinct is to toss the card into the trunk and slam the lid down,hiding it again. It’s what I have done all my life.Now I am dying. Not quickly, perhaps, but not slowly, either, and I feelcompelled to look back on my life.“Mom, you’re crying.”“Am I?”I want to tell him the truth, but I can’t. It embarrasses and shames me,this failure. At my age, I should not be afraid of anything— certainly notmy own past.I say only, “I want to take this trunk.”“It’s too big. I’ll repack the things you want into a smaller box.”I smile at his attempt to control me. “I love you and I am sick again. Forthese reasons, I have let you push me around, but I am not dead yet. I wantthis trunk with me.”“What can you possibly need in it? It’s just our artwork and other junk.”If I had told him the truth long ago, or had danced and drunk and sungmore, maybe he would have seen me instead of a dependable, ordinarymother. He loves a version of me that is incomplete. I always thought it waswhat I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to beknown.“Think of this as my last request.”I can see that he wants to tell me not to talk that way, but he’s afraid hisvoice will catch. He clears his throat. “You’ve beaten it twice before. You’llbeat it again.”We both know this isn’t true. I am unsteady and weak. I can neithersleep nor eat without the help of medical science. “Of course I will.”“I just want to keep you safe.”I smile. Americans can be so naïve.Once I shared his optimism. I thought the world was safe. But that wasa long time ago.“Who is Juliette Gervaise?” Julien says and it shocks me a little to hearthat name from him.I close my eyes and in the darkness that smells of mildew and bygonelives, my mind casts back, a line thrown across years and continents.Against my will— or maybe in tandem with it, who knows anymore?— Iremember.

Editorial Reviews

"I loved Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale. She has captured a particular slice of French life during World War II with wonderful details and drama. But what I loved most about the novel was the relationship between the two sisters and Hannah's exploration of what we do in moments of great challenge. Do we rise to the occasion or fail? Are we heroes or cowards? Are we loyal to the people we love most or do we betray them? Hannah explores these questions with probing finesse and great heart." -Lisa See, #1 New York Times bestseller author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan"In this epic novel, set in France in World War II, two sisters who live in a small village find themselves estranged when they disagree about the imminent threat of occupation. Separated by principles and temperament, each must find her own way forward as she faces moral questions and life-or-death choices. Haunting, action-packed, and compelling." -Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train"I read The Nightingale in one sitting, completely transported to wartime France, completely forgetting where I was. A historical novel-built on Kristin Hannah's proven skill with story, complex and enduring family ties, and passion-one that will captivate readers." -Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness"I found The Nightingale absolutely riveting! I started reading it one night after supper with every intention of reading just a few chapters for that evening and could not put it down. Not only is it an emotionally inspiring story with well-drawn characters whom you grow to care about deeply, but it is also historically informative..Read this book. It will keep you guessing throughout about the two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, both brave young women who did what they thought was the right thing to do in the most of difficult circumstances. They had--in the words of Lawrence Langer the WW2 historian scholar" -too often to make 'choiceless choices.'" -Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Director of the University of Miami Holocaust Teacher Institute"A beautifully written and richly evocative examination of life, love, and the ravages of war, and the different ways people react to unthinkable situations-not to mention the terrible and mounting toll of keeping secrets. This powerhouse of a story is equally packed with action and emotion, and is sure to be another major hit." -Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants