Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 304
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a story about World War II. This story takes place in the present and in the past. The story discusses the lives of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle Rossignol.
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Isabelle is a rebellious girl and is kicked out of many schools. When she is kicked out of one last school, she is sent to live with her father, Julien. Isabelle and her father do not have a good relationship because he was very distant to his daughters after his wife died. When Germans invade France, Isabelle flees Paris to go to her sister's home. On the way, she meets Gaetan, her future love interest.
Vianne accepts Isabelle into her home reluctantly because she does not want her sister's rebellious attitude to influence her own daughter. Nazi soldiers occupy Vianne's house while her husband is fighting in the war. Vianne is directly affected by the war when her good friend and neighbor is forced to wear a yellow star. This neighbor, Rachel, suffers great loss when her daughter is shot and she is forced to go to a concentration camp. Vianne adopts Rachel's son, Ari. Vianne also begins to forge identity papers to help other Jewish children as her way of rebelling against the Germans.
Isabelle joins the French Resistance and becomes a legend known as "The Nightingale". She helps French pilots escape to Spain. Nazi soldiers are furious with "The Nightingale" and want to find her to interrogate and kill her. Julien, Isabelle's father, claims that he is "The Nightingale" to protect his daughter.
In later years, Vianne is suffering from cancer. She receives a letter inviting her to a ceremony in Paris. At this conference, Vianne speaks in her sister's honor. Vianne shares many memories and secrets of her former life with her own son, named Julien.