The Nightingale Discussion Guide: Home
Articles, Interviews, and Reviews
- Interview with Kristin HannahGoodreads, February 2015
- A Q&A With Kristin Hannah, Author of February’s #1 Indie Next List PickBy Liz Button, American Booksellers Association, Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015
- Kristin Hannah’s inspirations for WWII tale ‘The Nightingale’The Seattle Times, February 22, 2015
- TriStar Nabs Hot WWII Novel 'The Nightingale' (Exclusive)By Rebecca Ford, The Hollywood Reporter, March 19, 2015
- The Nightingale by Kristin HannahKirkus Reviews, November 20, 2014
Other Books by Kristin Hannah
- Fly Away byISBN: 9780312577216Publication Date: 2013-04-23Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate---to be there for Kate's children---but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.
- Home Front byISBN: 9780312577209Publication Date: 2012-01-31Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life---children, careers, bills, chores---even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm's way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls.
- Night Road byISBN: 9780312364427Publication Date: 2011-03-22For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children's needs above her own, and it shows; her twins, Mia and Zach are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia's best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. Jude does everything to keep her kids on track for college and out of harm's way.
- Winter Garden byISBN: 9780312364120Publication Date: 2010-02-02Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn't know her mother? A powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.
- True Colors byISBN: 9780312364106Publication Date: 2009-02-03The Grey sisters have always been close. After their mother's death, the girls banded together, becoming best friends. Their stern, disapproving father cares less about his children than about his reputation. To Henry Grey, appearances are everything, and years later, he still demands that his daughters reflect his standing in the community. When a stranger comes to town, everything changes. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined.
- Summer Island byISBN: 9780609607374Publication Date: 2001-03-13Years ago, Nora Bridge walked out on her marriage and left her daughters behind. She has since become a famous radio talk-show host and newspaper columnist beloved for her moral advice. Her youngest daughter, Ruby, is a struggling comedienne who uses her famous mother as fuel for her bitter, cynical humor. When the tabloids unearth a scandalous secret from Nora's past, their estrangement suddenly becomes dramatic.
Videos about The Nightingale
1. The Nightingale opens with an intriguing statement that lays out one of the major themes of the book: “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” What do you think the narrator means by this? Is love the ideal and war the reality? How does war change the way these characters love? How does love influence their actions in the war? On a personal level, has love affected your life choices? Have those choices affected who and how you love?
2. Take a moment to talk about the narrative structure of The Nightingale. Why do you think Kristin Hannah chose to keep the narrator’s identity a secret in the beginning and end of the novel? Were you surprised by who it turned out to be? Did you go back and reread the beginning of the novel once you finished? Were you satisfied when you discovered who was narrating the novel?
3. Many characters chose to construct a secret identity in The Nightingale. How did pretending to be someone else determine each character’s fate, for better or worse? And what about those who had no choice, like Ari and Julien?
4. The sisters Isabelle and Vianne respond to the war in very different ways. Isabelle reacts with anger and defiance, risking her life to join the resistance against Nazi occupation. Vianne proceeds with caution and fear, avoiding conflicts for the sake of her children. Who do you admire—or relate to, or sympathize with—more, Vianne or Isabelle? Discuss your reasons. You may choose to share your own stories and experiences as well.
5. The book captures many of the era’s attitudes about men and women. Isabelle, for example, is told that women do not go to war. Vianne is confused by her new wartime role as provider. Their father, Julien, is cold and distant, unwilling to fulfill his parental duties after his wife dies. Have gender roles changed much since World War II? Have women always been strong in the face of adversity, but not recognized for their efforts? Vianne says that “men tell stories . . .women get on with it.” Do you agree with her?
6. Isabelle’s niece, Sophie, admires her aunt’s courage: “Tante Isabelle says it’s better to be bold than meek. She says if you jump off a cliff at least you’ll fly before you fall.” Do you agree? Is it better to take a risk and fail than never try at all? Do you think you could have acted as heroically as Isabelle under such horrifying circumstances? Who is more heroic in your mind—Isabelle or Vianne?
7. Perhaps one of the most chilling moments in the book is when Vianne provides Captain Beck with a list: Jews. Communists. Homosexuals. Freemasons. Jehovah’s Witnesses. We know now how wrong it was to provide this list, but can you understand why Vianne did it? What do you think you would have done?
8. Each of the sisters experiences love in a different way. Vianne’s love is that of a mature woman, a wife and a mother devoted to her family; Isabelle’s love is youthful and impulsive, more of a girlish dream than a reality. How did Isabelle’s feelings of abandonment shape her personality and her life? How did Vianne’s maternal love lead to acts of heroism, saving the lives of Jewish children? How did love—and war—bring these two sisters closer together?
9. Take a moment to talk about Beck. Is he a sympathetic character? Did you believe he was a good man, or was he just trying to seduce Vianne. Did he deserve his fate?
10. When Isabelle works with Anouk and other women of the French resistance, she notices “the wordless bond of women.” What does she mean? Do you agree that women who come from different backgrounds but share a common path can create a silent bond with other women? Why do you think this is so?
11. Vianne recalls her husband, Antoine, telling her that “we choose to see miracles.” What does he mean by this? Is it his way of telling his wife he knows the truth about their son’s biological father? Or is it his way of looking at life, of coping with the terrible events they’ve lived through? Is seeing the beauty in the world an active choice?
Is it possible to find miracles in our lives, if we look for them?
12. Discuss the scene in which Ari is taken away. What do you believe is the right answer in his situation—if there is one? What would you have done in Vianne’s position?
13. Do you think Julien had a right to know who his real father was? Would you have made the same decision Vianne did?
14. Finally, a show of hands: Who cried—or at least got a little choked up—while reading this book? Which scenes moved you the most? Which character’s fate would you say was the most tragic? The most poignant? The most harrowing? Did the book give you a better understanding of life under Nazi occupation during World War II? Did it move you, inspire you, haunt you? And finally, what will you remember most about The Nightingale?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
Reserve or Borrow a Copy
- The Nightingale byISBN: 9780312577223Publication Date: 2015-02-03
Check out NoveList Plus in the library, or at home, for more great recommendations.
- Lilac Girls byISBN: 9781101883075Publication Date: 2016-04-05Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.
- The Girl You Left Behind byISBN: 9780670026616Publication Date: 2013-08-20France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard's portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer's dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything; her family, her reputation, and her life to see her husband again.
- Now and Again byISBN: 9780316380935Publication Date: 2016-04-05For Maggie Rayburn--wife, mother, and secretary at a munitions plant--life is pleasant, predictable, and, she assumes, secure. When she finds proof of a high-level cover-up on her boss's desk, she impulsively takes it, an act that turns her world, and her worldview, upside down. Propelled by a desire to do good--and also by a newfound taste for excitement--Maggie starts to see injustice everywhere. Soon her bottom drawer is filled with what she calls "evidence," her small town has turned against her, and she must decide how far she will go for the truth.