My Minneapolis book club recently read “The Nightengale” by Kristin Hannah. I was excited to read it until I found out it was yet ANOTHER book about World War 2. It seems that the majority of books I read are about this topic and a quick search through my library proved out that theory. In some ways I get it, WW2 was a dramatic, interesting and tragic chapter of world history and one that is recent enough for it to be relatable. Yet for me, I want to learn about other places and eras and so I have been vocal that I’m ready for some new material. No more books about WW2 or abusive mothers!
Enough on that rant, back to book club and “The Nightengale”. The book itself, was decent. I say that because the plot was interesting and even new: two French sisters show extraordinary courage during the war as “passeurs” who assist POW’s escape occupied France and return to their homeland. But I was disappointed with the writing which was below my expectations and was full of cliches, overly simple dialogue and half baked characters. So good plot plus mediocre writing equals a book not worthy of a recommendation.
So why even bother to write about it? I found myself drifting off as I read this to wonder which of the many WW2 books I have read were my favorite. And I thought it might be interesting to share this list.
- “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. The story of Louis Zamperini’s extraordinary life. He survived 47 days at sea only to be rescued and sent to a POW camp in Japan. All the while maintaining his composure and empathy for the human race. And I love Laura Hillenbrand.
- “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. This Young Adult book is told from the point of view of a 9 year old girl in Germany who is living with a foster family. Her love of books ties her to others and is the theme that weaves together this sad and beautiful story.
- “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. Written while hiding with 7 other friends and family members in an annex it is the most widely known books about WW2 of all time. Published after her death in 1952 it remains one of the favorite first books for most readers I know.
- “Suite Francaise” by Irene Nemirovsky. This unfinished text was discovered 62 years after the authors death at Auschwitz. While intended to be a five part book, one 2 were complete but it is enough to make this a worthy read.
So while I am sorry to say that “The Nightengale” didn’t really make my recommendations list, it did give me a reason to reflect on these other high quality books. And now I am off to read another book about an abusive mother. Just kidding, seeing if I still have anybody still reading. xox