For Historical Fiction Fans: All The Light We Cannot See & The Nightingale

If you find yourself on a historical fiction reading kick, try these two books:

Historical Fiction_FrontCovers


5 disco balls, each

Both are set in Paris during WWII and alternate between the viewpoints of the two main characters. One tells the story of two children, a blind French girl and a German boy turned solider, who in alternate times would probably not have crossed paths, but their story intersects at an important juncture. Another is the tale of two sisters who after the German invasion in Paris find themselves fighting the resistance in their own ways at the expense of their relationship.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published: May 6, 2014 by Scribner
Purchase: Amazon
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See is such a beautiful story. Author, Anthony Doerr, is extremely talented and was able to describe scenes with such detail that you feel as though you were actually there.

Marie Laure is in possession of a prized stone that was said to be cursed. Werner’s prized possession is a transistor radio…how these two things intersect; well you will just have to read to find out.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Published: February 3, 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Purchase: Amazon
Wall Street Journal Book of the Year, 2015

The Nightingale is a story of family and perseverance. Eldest sister, Vianne, has to deal with the drafting of her husband, and forced lodging of a German solider at her home with her, her daughter and her sister Isabelle. Isabelle joins the resistance and puts the family in danger. These sisters each fight a battle that they do alone…will they realize they are both as strong as the other? Read and find out!

All the characters are well-developed. I heard the movie rights were purchased, and am looking forward to see who will be cast. It did take me longer than usual to read this book, but I didn’t feel like it was dragging.

.           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .

As with any WWII book, you are not getting a happy light-hearted read. You may ask: “Why would I want to read a sad and depressing book?” Well, because what you will walk away with are stories of strength and hope. If anything, to me, they also keep memories alive and share with us that although there was much heartbreak there was also love, empathy and courage.

If you have read one, or both, or these books, let me know what you thought!

10 thoughts on “For Historical Fiction Fans: All The Light We Cannot See & The Nightingale

  1. I’m hoping to get to The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah soon! I’ve read All The Light, but unfortunately that one was just okay for me. The various narratives didn’t work for me, but that’s one of my usual reading irks. 🙂

    Erica | Erica Robyn Reads

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read All the Light We Cannot See about a year ago, and I absolutely loved it. Anthony Doerr is a masterful writer, and his story is beautifully depicted. The book is a poignant page-turner, full of imagery and suspense. As a 23-year veteran high school teacher of advanced English, I have read many books, and All the Light We Cannot See is one of the best books I have ever read.
    More recently, I read The Nightingale, which I found to be terribly disappointing. Like All the Light We Cannot See, the book it is highly suspenseful and tragic. However, The Nightingale is emotionally exhausting – Kristin Hannah seems to enjoy wrenching the reader’s heart without offering any solace. She provides no catharsis; no eventual feeling of acceptance or understanding results from the many tragedies in the book. Instead, for me at least, the most traumatic scenes just left these temporary (but prolonged), ragged holes in my heart. In fact, several of the dramatic climaxes are opportunities where Hannah could provide some comfort or establish some sense of hope; but instead, she ignores these opportunities and seems to intentionally prolong or exacerbate the tragic elements which are actually the “highlights” of the novel. I realize my reaction may be different from others because I am a mother, and some of the most traumatic experiences involve the suffering of children and parent/child/familial losses, which really became too much for me! 😭 I think people give The Nightingale high ratings simply because it is a fast-paced, engaging story that is emotionally evoking. I, on the other hand, wish I had read more of the negative reviews before I picked it up. I have never reacted so negatively to a book. After reading half of the book, I just kept thinking that catharsis would come; the next tragedy would offer something more, but I was sadly disappointed, and a bit annoyed, with each new reading. For this reason, I feel compelled to share my response with others. 😔


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