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The Nightingale Novel:Detailed Summary and Critical Review


World War II is one of the few wars which truly affected every country in the world as well as almost the every person, directly or indirectly

It is an epic novel that portraits the French Resistance in World War II.

  • This novel is about the war experiences of two sisters who have long been torn apart by their childhood losses.
  • Characters:
  • Nazi: People who occupied France and tortured People.
  • Vianne: The older sister, lives in the town of Carriveau where there is an airstrip. She is married and has one daughter, Sophie. Vianne enjoys her quiet life and relies on her husband, Antoine, to take care of everything.
  • Isabelle: The younger sister, has been living in boarding school.
  • Antoine: Vianne’s Husband
  • Sophie: Vianne’s daughter
  • Rachel: Vianne’s Best friend
  • Marc: Rachel’s husband

 THEME OF THE NOVEL

  • The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, is about two sisters struggling to survive during World War II in France. Isabelle is rebellious and intent on fighting for France while Vianne only wants to survive the war with her family intact. Both sisters learn who they are and what they are capable of as the war wages on.

  SUMMARY and Critical Review

  • The Nightingale begins with an elderly woman who is dying of cancer. Her identity is not revealed. She lived in house near the Origon Coast with his son who is a doctor. Sitting in front of a large trunk, she remembers some of her memories with teary eyes.
  • Her son is helping her to move to a retirement home to lower her grief. As her son is helping her, he discovers a photo of a woman named Juliette Gervaise and asks his mother about that lady. The elderly woman shook and begins to remember the story of Vianne and Isabelle.
  • The main plot begins just as the World War II starts. France is being drawn in the war.
  • Vianne was fourteen and Isabelle was only Four years old when their mother died and their father refused to be a good father.
  • Vianne is married and lives happily with her husband Antione and daughter Sophie in the town of Carriveau where there is an airstrip.
  • Isabelle has been living in one boarding school after another. Isabelle is impetuous and has run away from or been expelled from several schools. Isabelle has just been expelled from another school and goes to Paris to convince her father to allow her to live with him.
  • When France is drawn into the war, Antoine is sent to fight as a solider as is Vianne's best friend Rachel's husband, Marc. The two women are left alone to raise their daughters and continue their teaching jobs at a school at which they both work. Vianne is certain she'll be unable to carry on alone.
  • Isabelle's father, sends Isabelle away with the Humberts to escape Paris as the Nazis invade. She is to return to Carriveau to live with Vianne.
  • During her journey she meets a young man named Gaetan, with whom she falls in love. Gaetan invites her to join the French resistance, but leaves her behind in Carriveau. Isabelle lives with Vianne, but remains outspoken, which Vianne fears will draw the attention of the Germans and cause them harm.
  • Paris is attacked by the Germans.
  • A Nazi named Beck billets with Vianne. He treats Vianne and Sophie kindly even when Isabelle speaks up. Isabelle joins the resistance movement and begins distributing anti-German tracts. This work leads her to move back to Paris where she becomes a courier for the resistance movement.
  • Vianne continues to teach alongside her friend Rachel in a school in the town
  • Beck asks Vianne for a list of names of Jewish people and other undesirables who work at the school.
  • She is forced to give him Rachel's name. Rachel is fired from her job. As the war continues, rations become scarce and the winters are very difficult. Beck informs Vianne that Antoine has been placed in a prison camp.
  • One night Isabelle finds a downed Allied airman in Paris and brings him to the resistance group. She devises a plan to transport airmen across the Pyrenees mountains into Spain where they can safely rejoin their military forces. From that point on she becomes the Nightingale and is in grave danger of being captured by the Nazis. She is given the false identity of Juliette Gervaise to protect her family and friends.
  • Beck tells Vianne that she should hide Rachel because the Jews are being rounded up and sent to work camps. Vianne hides Rachel in her barn cellar, but not long enough. As they try to escape, Rachel's daughter Sarah is shot and killed. When Rachel is taken she begs Vianne to take her son, Ari. Vianne takes Ari and passes him off as a child named Daniel that she adopted from her husband's cousin.
  • Isabelle returns to Carriveau. When the airstrip is attacked she rescues another pilot and hides him in Vianne's farm. Beck discovers Isabelle and Vianne hits him in the head with a shovel while Isabelle shoots him. Isabelle has also been shot. Beck dies. Gaetan arrives with other resistance members and they take Beck's body and the body of the pilot away. Gaetan also takes Isabelle to a safehouse to heal. Isabelle and Gaetan finally admit their feelings and begin a love affair.
  • Another Nazi named Von Richter billets with Vianne. He is very cruel and tortures Vianne. Vianne accepts the son of another Jewish friend who is being sent away. She knows she can no longer stand by and watch the evil around her so she takes the boy to the orphanage at the convent. Mother Superior Marie-Therese tells Vianne she will help hide more children, so Vianne begins to rescue Jewish children whose parents are taken away.
04-16-16

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