I went into the Nightingale very skeptical. #1, I don’t trust people with 2 first names…. #2, I am VERY skeptical by a book with almost unanimous 5 star reviews.
Exhibit A – Amazon
4.8 rating from almost 8,000 readers?! I better have my socks knocked all the way off. Seriously?! The Nightingale was recommended to me by Amazon because I liked All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. Anthony Doer won the Pulitzer Prize for that novel, and I don’t think it has this many good reviews.
Exhibit B – Goodreads
So did The Nightingale live up to my expectations? Yes and no. I did stay up until 2 am on a work night finishing this story. I looked forward to reading every day. I was invested in all the characters. I was a little sad to reach the end.
But was it the BEST WWII book I’ve ever read? No. In fact, it felt like coming home to the genre. It was predictable in all the right ways. Emotional in the right ways. Covered every aspect of the war – French resistance, occupied France, concentration camps, life in Paris, new love and love lost, deaths, separation of Jewish families, I could go on! It was doing too much – like Kristin Hannah said to herself “I am going to write a WWII epic” and tried to include all the hits.
Here is the Amazon summary:
“A novel for a lifetime” – I don’t think so. It was a good read. Thrilling, romantic, awful, engaging, but not the best novel ever. I enjoyed reading it. It does not make my list of best WWII novels by a long shot. I think that the majority of its good reviews are from people who haven’t done much reading in the genre. My hope is that the Nightingale serves as a starting point to a rewarding journey.
I will make a short post with a list of much better WWII novels – I was inspired to think about my favorites and got so excited thinking about all these good stories that I need to share them. Expect an update soon!