Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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Category: A Book Set in a Foreign Land

France, 1940. As sisters, Vianne and Isabelle couldn’t be more opposite. Vianne, older, married, with a child has waved her husband off to the front to help defend France from Hitler when her younger sister arrives. She disapproves of Isabella, younger, outspoken and kicked out of school after school due to her poor behaviour and inability to comply or follow instructions. She’s a liability. As the Germans invade France the war arrives not just in their town, but forces itself into their home in the form of SS Captain Beck. Vianne wants to toe the line in order to keep her home and her daughter safe. Isabelle, angry and rebellious wants to fight, and hard.
Each sister sets off on a journey of their own, fighting and surviving in the face of adversity.

This is a beautifully written story set in the most desolate of settings. Reminiscent of The Book Theif and All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale differs in the shaping of it’s older, determined female characters. Hannah so eloquently shapes these two very different women in to strong, resilient heroines, who will stop at nothing to keep their family and others safe. Isabelle and Vianne are well constructed, their struggles and motivations real. The way Hannah has conveyed the raw desperation of survival during occupied France is written in such a way as to make it real for the reader, but not in a way which overpowers the hope and optimism our heroines are fighting for. The brutality and horror of the Holocaust is communicated when required, the realities of war explored in a way that allows the spirit of our heroines shine. The first third of the text takes a slower pace to the rest of the book, but once there, you won’t want to put this novel down. The last six pages will be sure to conjure a tear or two and break your heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, much more than anything I have read in the past two years. I felt so connected to the characters and mourned their exit from my life once I had finished reading, the first book hangover I’ve had since reading The Bronze Horseman. 
Much like All the Light You Cannot See and The Book Thief, The Nightingale attempts to embody the spirit of determination, resilience and the overwhelming sense of what’s right and good in the world during the darkest of times. If you enjoyed these texts, you will enjoy The Nightingale.

Five/Five stars.

Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

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Category:
A Book Recommended by a Friend (via @160books)

Recently divorced Laura tends to elderly poet Anthony Peardew and his mansion. When he passes and leaves his estate in her name she discovers the secret he has kept for more than 40 years. Locked away in his study, the room she was forbidden to enter, are hundreds of lost treasures Anthony has collected since losing the two most important things to him; his wife, and the trinket she gave him the morning of her death. Pained by his loss Anthony begins collecting, classifying, and storing any and all lost objects he encounters in the hope that one day they will be reunited with their owners and his own mistake will be forgiven. In order to inherit his fortune, returning these items to their owners becomes Laura’s task.
Spanning multiple years and storylines, Lost Things is a tale of human resilience, love and hope. Inter-dispersed with poetic short stories giving life to the missing objects, this is a light, pick-me-up read, which appeals to the view that every object has a story. It tugs at your heartstrings with stories of the resilience of the human spirit and the need for reunions, healing and closure.
With the support of friends, Laura begins to find the owners of the Lost Things, and in the process rediscovers herself and her happiness. This book is recommended for those looking for an easy, uplifting read about resilience and kindness in this manic world.

Four/Five stars

Book Review: The Girl in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware



Reading Challenge Category: A Nordic Thriller

Rattled travel Journalist Lo Blacklock has survived a home invasion which puts her relationship on the rocks as she leaves for the biggest assignment of her career. Filling in for her sick boss, she is off on the maiden voyage of a luxury boutique cruise liner, travelling around Norway and the North Sea in search of the Northern Lights. On board, the glitz and glam of how the other half live leave Lo stunned. But not as stunned as when, in the middle of the night, a body is thrown overboard from the cabin next to hers…
Still reeling from having her home violated, Lo is determined to seek justice for the woman thrown overboard. The more she pushes the topic, the quicker she learns there is no one on the boat she can trust.
The Girl in cabin 10 is more plain sailing than thrilling boat ride. Much like her debut novel, Ruth Ware has constructed a simple story, with unconvincing characters. Their actions lack any convincing motivation and she fails to give the reader clues to build suspense, opting instead to spring advances in the story on the reader instead. She has even recycled a ‘missing cellphone’ angle from her first novel, which lacks originality. Even when our heroine finally sets foot in Norway the author just manages to articulate her struggle for survival and justice. The Girl in Cabin 10 shoots and misses when it comes to being thrilling, but may be enjoyable for those looking for an easy read.

Two/five stars.