“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.”
Vianne and Antoine live in the beautiful French countryside with their daughter Sophie. It is the spring of 1939 and everything is perfect, until Antoine gets called away to join the war effort.
Isabelle is a stubborn and opinionated teenage girl. When she is thrown out of yet another reform school, she is sent home to her father in Paris. The resort doesn’t last long before the Germans are invading Paris and Isabelle is sent to live with her sister, Vianne.
Now Vianne and Isabelle are under the same roof for the first time since childhood… along with a German soldier that is billeted in their home. Vianne wants to keep her head down until the war is over but Isabelle wants to fight back. Will these estranged sisters continue to be at odds with each other? Or will they learn to work together so they can survive this war against the Nazi?
Holy guacamole this book was amazing!! By far one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve read (currently only All the Light We Cannot See is beating it).
These sisters are the complete opposite of each other in every way. Vianne is quiet and meek and does what she is told. Isabelle is loud and outspoken and always gets into trouble. In a time of war you would think that Vianne’s approach would be best, but reading about it you think she’s a coward. You read about Isabelle and you think she’s this reckless little girl who is going to get her family killed.
I had a lot of problems with the characters in this book. I thought Vianne was weak, Isabelle was reckless and I kept waiting for this huge character development. Well, it was there, just not as extreme as I expected. But it made the characters more believable to me. They weren’t these ordinary people suddenly doing amazing things, there was a buildup to what they did and the changes they made.
It was an amazing storyline. It was something so different than what we normally hear about. The description calls it the “women’s war” meaning the war on the Homefront after the Germans invaded France. The women and only some men were left tide fend their homes and livelihoods from this invading nation. And it wasn’t easy. The Germans took what they wanted with no regard for the French housing them. It was a constant battle just to stay fed and clothed.
Overall, fantastic book! I consider it a must read! The writing is amazing and beautiful (just look at the quote I started the review with!) and Kristin Hannah is a phenomenal author! I cannot wait to read more of her books!
Next review: The Martian by Andy Weir