Beyond Bestsellers: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

By Jennifer K.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was one of the big bestsellers of 2015. And why not? It’s a terrific read.

The novel tells an epic story of courage and endurance in World War II France, focusing the complicated relationship between two women. One is Vianne, a farm wife and mother who just wants to survive; the other is Isabelle, her sister, a fiery rebel who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut. As the war grinds on, and their valley is occupied by German troops, Vianne and Isabelle adopt different very strategies.

There’s a film version of the book in the works, starring Dakota and Elle Fanning. It’s currently scheduled to hit theaters in 2021.

If you loved The Nightingale and want to read more books like it – or if you want to read The Nightingale and are stuck in holds queue limbo – we have some recommendations for you.

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

We start off with this month’s unlimited access digital title. This book has several components complimentary to The Nightingale. The most obvious is the setting–both take place in France during World War II. Additionally, both Vianne and The Paris Architect’s Lucien find themselves becoming more involved in the fight against the German soldiers the more they see the personal affect it is having to those living around them.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

In a German prison in occupied France, a young British prisoner named Julie writes everything she knows about the British war effort. This is her confession: she’s giving up all her secrets in an effort to stave off torture. But her confession is more than just a confession: in it she details not just the locations of air fields and munitions factories, but also the history of her friendship with a gallant young pilot named Maddie. This astonishing novel of war, friendship, and sacrifice contains twists and turns that will keep you gasping until the final page.

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

In 1943, Mussolini’s regime collapsed and Italy surrendered to the Allies. Jewish refugees poured into northern Italy, hoping for a safe refuge. Then the Germans invaded, and the refugees found themselves trapped. This novel tells the story of one little Italian village, the Jews the villagers strove to protect from German occupiers, and the toll the villagers paid for their defiance. An unforgettable novel about the nobility of ordinary people in impossible circumstances.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Want some espionage and adventure in your World War II fiction? Meet Eve Gardiner, a boozy, foul-mouthed ex-spy. Eve doesn’t have much use for Charlie, the disgraced American socialite who seeks her out at the opening chapter of this novel. But Charlie intends to find out what happened to her cousin Rose, who disappeared during the War. Eve might have answers, and Charlie won’t be deterred. This page-turner of a novel tells the tale of their quest to find Rose. It also focuses on the developing friendship between Charlie and Eve, and Charlie’s budding romance with Eve’s handsome colleague.

Blackout by Connie Willis

This is the first installment in an epic two-part science fiction novel (the other half is All Clear) that won the Hugo Award in 2011. Three young history graduate students, hoping to study life during the Blitz, time travel to 1940 London. Their plan unravels immediately in the chaos of the German bombing of London. Soon they find themselves in a desperate struggle, increasingly worried that, even if they aren’t killed, they won’t be able to make it back home.  If you’re side-eyeing this title because you’re not a science fiction fan, rest assured that Blackout won that award because it’s legitimately great. It’s a near-perfect study of ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances.

Want more?

There are a lot of novels that explore the difficult choices and sacrifices made by people during wartime. Check out this list to learn about a few more, or drop your own favorite titles into the comments.


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2 responses to “Beyond Bestsellers: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah”

  1. Fritzie (Francess) J Gibbons says:

    What do I do if I cannot find my library card. Do not have the number.

    • Craig Burgess says:

      Hi Fritzie! Sorry for the late response! We don’t usually receive questions like this through our blog post. If you still need help finding out what your library card number is, you’ll want to either call your local branch, or submit your question to our “Ask Us, Tell Us” staff. They’ll be happy to assist you!

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