Pageturners: The Nightingale, The End of Her
We're all about literary tension this month, because apparently we don't have enough IRL. Get comfy in the hammock or lounge chair because you won't be moving for a while.
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for a book jacket that screams SOON TO BE A
MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.
Sometimes I sleep on a book and the FOMO is real, my friends. And if you’re even a little bit like me, you think you have to read the book before you see the movie (which you absolutely have to do).
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, takes place in France during WWII. But don’t let that put you off. This historical fiction doesn’t read like a history lesson. It’s a beautiful story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who are the complete opposites of each other in personality and values, yet find the strength within themselves to fight against German occupation in their own ways.
Vianne’s husband is sent to fight at the front, leaving her living in Carriveau with their daughter, Sophie, and Isabelle. She clings to the belief that things will be fine as long as the French comply, that the war will be over soon and that Antoine will be home with them again. Until a German captain requisitions her house.
In contrast, Isabelle is a strong-willed, rebellious eighteen-year-old who refuses to accept the occupation or the German who has taken over their home. Feeling trapped and powerless, she joins the Resistance and risks her life over and over to save downed American and British pilots.
Each sister strives to survive the hardships and atrocities of war in her own way. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes romantic, this story is unique in its perspective, as it offers us the women’s view of war. It’s a beautiful story of remembrance and the resilience of the human spirit. It highlights the strength of women, their ability to rise in times of stress and the depths they will go to protect the ones they love.
The movie stars Elle and Dakota Fanning as Isabelle and Vianne, and is directed by Mélanie Laurent (an actress in her own right…you may recognize her from Inglorious Bastards, or most recently as Number Two in Ryan Reynolds’ film 6 Underground). I’m hopeful that with so many women at the helm (it’s also produced by two women!) the integrity of the female point of view will be maintained.
The film is slated for release on December 23, 2021. Bring tissues.
The End of Her, by Shari Lapena
If you’re as big a fan of cat-and-mouse, edge-of-your-seat thrillers as I am, Shari Lapena’s The End of Her is the book for you. As a self-proclaimed murder-mystery expert, it takes a lot for a book to truly surprise me, but this one did it. From the first page, I was drawn in to the lives of sleep-deprived new parents, Patrick and Stephanie, with colicky twins, who are struggling to find themselves amid the chaos—hello, relatable! Then, enter a mysterious woman from Patrick’s past who drops a shocking accusation, rocking Stephanie to her core, and I'm caught—hook, line and sinker.
As someone who typically listens to, reads and watches true crime stories to relax (no joke), I blew through this book in record time. Lapena did a great job in not revealing everything about the characters right at the start so we learn more about each one as the story progresses. Protagonist Stephanie is forced to question the man she married, making the audience wonder if you ever truly know someone.
The end of the book (and the epilogue!) literally had me picking my jaw up off of the floor, and that takes a lot considering how many murder mysteries I’ve read. If you’re like me and need a break from the state of the world and the general clutter of life, immerse yourself in this read, and hopefully you won’t end up suspiciously side-eyeing your hubby like I did.