The Nightingale

The Nightingale

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Thoughts:

I remember reading a book by Kristin Hannah in my pre-blogging days. It absolutely broke my heart and I remember actually crying over it. Therefore, when I knew this book was about World War II, I knew it was going to be another book that would play with my emotions.

The Nightingale centres around Vianne and her sister Isabelle. We learn about their experiences through World War II. Vianne and Isabelle have had a hard life. Isabelle was only four when their mother died. Their father was traumatised by the First World War and has sent them away unable to look after his daughters. Vianne met her husband Antoine. Isabelle ended up feeling very neglected by her father and became rebellious. Later, as World War II began Vianne and Isabelle began to experience curfews, rationing and blackouts. Isabelle is determined to do something worthwhile. She hates living life the way she is and joins the resistance fighters. Vianne meanwhile, has a Nazi soldier living in her house. Vianne is keen to keep her daughter safe. However, when people start to be taken away, she struggles about what to do…

I thought this book was so expertly written. We all have heard about what life was like for people in World War II, but I had never really thought about the struggles they must go through. Vianne had to constantly battle between whether she should work with the enemy to get small favours for those she loves or fight against the opposition for what’s right.

I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like for those living in that time period. Never knowing when it was going to stop. It’s terrifying. Kristin Hannah doesn’t shy away from describing how awful their experiences were. This book is heart-breaking but so very important to read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re into historical fiction!

Letters From The Lighthouse

Letters from the Lighthouse

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees.

Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adore Emma Carroll’s writing. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to this book any sooner, because my goodness it was amazing. It didn’t take me long to devour. As soon as I get started on an Emma Carroll book, I’m instantly gripped and Letters From The Lighthouse was no exception. I cannot recommend Emma Carroll’s books highly enough. I can’t wait to teach juniors again so I can expose them to her beautiful writing. I will, however, pass this book onto our Year 5/6 teachers, especially because their topic is going to be World War II. This book would be incredibly for those older children to explore.

Letters From The Lighthouse centres around Olive and her little brother Cliff, who are evacuated to the Devon coast after a bomb raid in London. During an air raid, their older sister Sukie goes missing. Olive finds a coded message which seems to link Sukie to Devon. Olive is determined to find out what’s going on with Sukie, but she never expects to find out what she does…

This book does have light and dark moments. I loved the lighter moments, but it was the darkness of humanity around that time that struck a chord with me. It always makes me feel so disheartened whenever I read about what Jewish people went through. I wish things had been different.

I loved the characters Emma Carroll has created. As ever, they are so well rounded and developed. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t feel for in one way or another. There are some genuinely touching moments. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Emma is a wonderful writer, but the poignancy of this story really touched my heart.

This book may be intended for children, but it’s a pleasure for adults to read as well. It will stay with me for a while, I know that.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A simply stunning read about family, grief and tolerance!

The Girl In The Blue Coat

The Girl in the Blue Coat

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Stray

Synopsis:

An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times

The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person–a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

Thoughts:

There’s something about World War II books that really intrigue me. I find them so desperately sad, but at the same time I love to read about that time period, especially when delivered in a sensitive yet believable manner. These books always tug at my heart-strings and this book really was no exception.

The Girl In The Blue Coat follows our protagonist Hanneke. Hanneke has experienced great loss as she has lost her boyfriend who was a soldier during the German invasion of Amsterdam. Hanneke feels guilty because she convinced him to enlist. Hanneke feels empty without her first love so she throws herself into supporting her family. Hanneke begins to work in the black market, getting items for her neighbours and selling them on. As the story progresses, Hanneke becomes a part of the Resistance, beginning to help others and alongside this Hanneke begins a search for a girl in the blue coat (a young Jewish girl that a neightbour was hiding!)

Hanneke is such a great character. I loved reading about her because she was so headstrong. I really liked that there wasn’t anything stand out about Hanneke. She could easily have been anyone. That’s what makes her such a special character. She’s ordinary, yet does incredibly brave things for others. There are fascinating characters throughout which makes The Girl In The Blue Coat a pleasure to read.

Monica Hesse has clearly done her research when it comes to subject matter. Everything was so realistic and I feel like she captured the time period perfectly.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A well researched, thought out YA historical read!