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Nightingale Broché – 5 octobre 2017
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The New York Times number one bestselling title.
Bravery, courage, fear and love in a time of war.
Despite their differences, sisters Viann and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann 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 Viann finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.
As the war progresses, the sisters' relationship and strength is tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann 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.
Vivid and exquisite in its illumination of a time and place that was filled with atrocities, but also humanity and strength, Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale will provoke thought and discussion that will have readers talking long after they finish reading.
Description du produit
Biographie de l'auteur
Détails sur le produit
- Éditeur : Pan Books; Main Market édition (5 octobre 2017)
- Langue : Anglais
- Broché : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1509848622
- ISBN-13 : 978-1509848621
- Âge de lecture : Dès 18 ans
- Poids de l'article : 330 g
- Dimensions : 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
- Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon : 146,535 en Livres (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres)
- Commentaires client :
À propos de l'auteur
Meilleures évaluations de France
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SUBJECT : A huge thanks … and some historical corrections
I thank you very much for your nice novel “Nightingale”.
I am French, born in 1962, seventeen years after the Nazi defeat. 17 years… an eternity for my children. Hard to imagine now ; it’s no more than the span of time since the 11th of September.
My father, born in 1910, had precise memories of the Great War and was called for duty for the second one. He told me a lot about these times and we have some “Justes” (Righteous among the Nations) in our family.
In light of the above, I spotted out some passages of your novel that you might want to adjust for a later edition. Some are details of no importance, others are …
Thanks again for your very nice work. I hope you won’t feel offended by my suggestions. My sources are at your disposal if needed.
1) Page 23 of the St Martin edition. A tiny detail to begin with. Antoine Mauriac is called by mobilization order, goes to the train station, and buys “their tickets..(…) and led them to the train… third class”. It’s not clear if it’s for him or his family.
Called for duty soldiers, sometime poor, don’t have to buy train tickets. The mobilization leaflet is a road order that can be given as a transportation voucher. Or exchanged for a free-ticket. Such is the case for most call forms even during peace times.
Besides, since Antoine is an officer, the rule was to travel first Class, separate from privates. Not only to be more comfortable, but also for the peace of mind of the soldiers themselves.
2) Page 58 : The village of Carriveau is supposed to be located in Touraine area. The elementary school where Vianne Mauriac works as a teacher is described as stables of a former Manor house that “(…) has been bombed during the Great War and never rebuilt”.
Touraine is located in the center-west of France, about 250 km south-west of Paris. 300 km to the nearest point reached by the German army. Indeed, Touraine has been bombed during the Second World War, but not during the first one.
3) Marc de Champlain, Rachel de Champlain’s husband, never returns from POW camp. The story suggests that the reason might be because he is Jewish (?).
It’s possible that Marc died in his POW camp, unlike Antoine Mauriac who returned, but it is unlikely.
Why ? It may seem surprising, but the safest place for a Jewish adult during the WWII was allies POW camps. Because of the Geneva convention, Germans neither killed nor moved the Jewish soldier POW’s to concentration camps. Even if it was rather easy to do.
Conversely, Germans did not respect this treaty for Russian POW’s (allegedly because Moscow refused to sign it) and for Polish POW’s for instance (allegedly because, although Poland signed it, this country was not considered a State anymore, which made the signature obsolete !).
It is more probable that Marc should have been the only one to survive the war in his family.
4) Page 122 : The scene that describe the first encounter between Sophie Mauriac and a Resistance underground group, contains implausible points.
The group leader Henri de Navarre (not really a low social class name…) is allegedly a Communist…
Let’s remember a fact. Staline almost achieved a feat, by making people believe that the main enemy for Nazis, from the beginning until the fall of Berlin was Soviet Union and communism. Indeed, Russia greatly contributed to Nazism final defeat, but they began the war as… allies !
In France, the Communist Party has done its best to erase memory of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact.
That might have created painful and cornelian situation for French some communists but in 1940, Nazis and “Bolshevik” (as your hero calls them) were slaughtering the Polish people by tacit accord. The Katyn massacre, for instance, took place in May 1940.
The Communist Party was against the French war effort and its leader (Maurice Thorez) even deserted the French army in September 1939, following Moscow orders to avoid fighting the Germans.
Very rare were active organized communist French groups or actions to be found until the end of 1940 or spring 1941 (15th of May Call). The real communist fight began with the Barbarossa operation (22nd june 1941).
In your novel, the scene where Sophie meets and is recruited by Henri de Navarre takes place in summer 1940, one year before. Is Henri de Navarre initiative an isolated one ? If so, it is very unlikely that a non communist group would have accepted a communist leader. And communists did not mix with other groups either.
So the scene is not plausible and gives credit to one of the main lie of WWII.
The fact that Henri de Navarre, after some minutes of discussion with Isabelle, a rookie recruit, is quite forthright in naming the secret “Musée de l’Homme” Group, is also highly unlikely.
I DNF'd this because I am angry. I DNF'd 400 pages in, in a 514 pages book. That's how angry I am.
This book has many flaws.
It is predictable. Its plot is pretty much every book and TV show and movie set in Europe during WW2 boiled down to a burnt crust without much taste left in it.
The writing was... lacking. There were repetitions of the exact same things two pages apart : the same morning, the same thought. And if it was intended as a way of highlighting the monotonous days of the Occupation, that was failed. I was just the same thing retold without proper editing.
The relationships between the characters were reasonably interesting, especially between Vianne and Beck or Isabelle and her father, but more often it was lacklustre. That's a shame : the two main characters show strength in two completely different ways and that's one of the things that made me genuinely like some aspects of this book. I also really liked that the Germans weren't depicted all over as monsters. Many Germans were hard believers of nazism, which is why they actually came to power and were followed by most of german society, but most people in the Wehrmacht and even the SS were conscripted, regular people. Some of which didn't care or didn't like the nazi ideology.
However, what truly made me dislike this book were the truly shocking historical mistakes in a book that overall doesn't actually contain much "history". I'm a regular french history teacher, but any french person or even subpar historian could have pointed these out.
These mistakes range from the ridiculous to inferring frankly dangerously simplistic ideas by way of sensationalism and carelessness.
And if there are two things you can't be careless about, it's WW2 and the Holocaust.
Historical fiction plays with history, and that's great.
Believe it or not, I'm even favourable to anachronism changes to details in favour of a more balanced plot or just poetic license. I completely get why most actresses don't pluck their brows then playing a mediaeval queen, or son't show their nipples win a movie set during the Renaissance. I absolutely loved the fact that Brad Pitt killed Hitler in Inglorious Basterds. That aliens were somehow involved in the invention of tools by apes in 2001 : A Space Odyssey. That every adaptation of Arthurian legends show faeries and completely anachronistic but gorgeous armours. I wasn't even mad at Prince of Persia, ffs. Well, I was, but for other reasons than historical f*ckups.
What happened here owes nothing to poetic license. It is, as I said earlier, laziness.
First, there were tiny but telling things :
- The character's first name, "Vianne", could not have been given at that time. France was very conservative and invented names were forbidden by law until the 1960s. She should have been named Vivianne, or Vianney if she'd been a guy. A primary-school teacher and her postman husband could not have afforded Bollinger and would DEFINITELY not have popped a bottle just for a picnic (!!!).
- Macarons were NOT widespread in France until they were popularized by Pierre Hermé at the beginning of the 2000's, so you couldn't have found any outside the city-centre of Paris and maybe one of two shops in each big urban center.
- Poor people like Rachel would DEFINITELY not have baked canelés : they are from the Bordeaux region and were not widespread in France until the 2000s and need a lot of very expensive vanilla to be made. So, no.
- Apartments near the Eiffel Tower were already VERY expensive even in the 1940s. A bookseller couldn't have afforded to live there.
- The Comédie Française would NOT be taking art out of the Louvre. The Comédie Française or "Français" is the national theater company. Why would they be in charge of conveying artwork when the Musées Nationaux, created during the Révolution, are in charge of those things ?
- The Pyrénées are not "a thousand-meters" (=3,300 feet) high. They are almost three-thousand meters high. And if you want to cross on foot to Spain near St-Jean-de-Luz (and, lucky me, I've done that), you'll need to climb to almost 2,400 meters (=7,900 feet) high. That's quite a difference. I'm not even mentioning that you can't do this in a day/night. Not while leaving on foot from St Jean de Luz. You'd need three or four days at least, even while walking at a gruelling pace.
And then, it became more serious :
- The collabos are presented as a mean, evil minority. They were not. Most of French people were actually collaborating, some more zealous than others. Some were mean. Some didn't have a choice.
- The Résistance is presented as very nice, competent, united and heroic. They indeed were heroic and most of them were competent people. However, this completely overshadows the fact that Communists didn't get involved in the Résistance until 1941, since the USSR was still allied to Germany. They joined after Operation Barbarossa, when Hitler suddenly decided to launch an attack against the Soviet Union in what maybe remains his biggest strategical mistake, and the USSR decided the Nazis were the enemy, after all. The résistants were not white, fluffy and naive cute little lambs : some of the actions of the Résistance implied bombing, endangering or killing innocent bystanders and often torturing Germans or Frenchs if need be.
And then, some of those issues range from the very serious to the outright scandalous :
- Antisemitism from the French population is NEVER EVEN REFERRED TO. Why do you think those laws passed without anyone complaining ? Who do you think designed, printed and financed this reclusive antisemitic campaigns ? French society has been (and sadly, still is, in a lesser extent) very antisemitic since the Middle Ages. That has not stopped and actually became worse during the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1939, the anti-Jew sentiment was as high as it had ever been.
- The book shows antisemitism as beginning after the 1940 defeat, inferring those policies were passed under german pressure. THAT IS NOT TRUE. Almost all the antisemitic laws (forbidding Jews from being state workers, from being teachers, doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers, doing public art and so on) were decided by the French government on its own. The Germans never asked this, and French people at best ignored and mostly supported these campaigns. The deportation of the french Jews was VOLUNTEERED by the Vichy government. This has been proven and proven again and confirmed many times by every new historical research on the subject.
- The Vélodrome d'Hiver Round-Up is presented as conducted by the french police, and it was, but the only two policemen Isabelle talks to about it (as if they were going to openly tell a random girl in the street that the people they're gathering would be deported...) are almost crying and saying they are only "following orders". First, it's a freaking dangerous and disgusting way to justify the actions of those poor, poor policemen, crying while they lead people to their deaths. (Just NO)
And second, IT'S NOT F*CKING TRUE. ALL 5,000 POLICEMEN INVOLVED IN THE VELODROME D'HIVER WERE BLOODY VOLUNTEERS. Even if not intended as such, this is such a disgusting revisionist way of presenting historical facts that I frankly want to send a very rude letter to the editor.
I wondered why this book hadn't been translated into French since people here are always very interested by World War Two and the Occupation. Now I get why. Not one french editing company would touch this with a ten-foot pole. And they are right not to.
Meilleurs commentaires provenant d’autres pays
The research for the book is lamentable. There are glaring historical, cultural and geographical inaccuracies that detract from the story. There are also plot errors and straightforward mistakes littering the text. It would be unfair to expose the main errors as it will spoil the plot for anyone wishing to read the book, but for example, the main town in which the story is set, the fictional Carriveau, starts in German occupied France not far from Orleans or Tours. Toward the end of the story it has moved a few hundred miles south to be near Oradour sur Glane, not far from Limoges. Members of the French resistance forget which are pseudonyms and which are real names. Laurence Olivier is considered an appropriate name to avoid attention. A giant steel wheel becomes a stone wheel in the course of just one paragraph.
The author appears to have cobbled together scenes from most of the famous second world war novels: Schindlers List, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Book Thief. At one point it appeared as if a Tale of Two Cities was going to make an appearance. The effect is of a massive cliché and a desperate lack of originality.
There is an obsession in making the two heroines stronger than the men. For example, a starved, weakened nineteen year old woman is made out to be stronger than young, fit, well trained airmen.
The writing itself varies in quality. At times, especially at the beginning, it isn’t bad, but it does become repetitive and sentimental. There are times it descends from an historical novel to become something of a farce like the TV series Allo Allo, and becomes something of an insult to the brave women in particular who fought with the resistance in the second world war.
However, what the book does have is an engaging story line, hook and pace. Although risible and sentimental in places, it is never boring and I read it to the end. The shame is that with a few more edits and better research, it could have been something special.
There were references to the smell of hay in April in France (wrong season!), hummingbirds on roses in a French garden (hummingbirds don’t live in France and don’t feed on roses!), misspelt German words, plenty of typos in English.
It just didn’t at all evoke France/continental Europe (I’m Swiss).
The success of this book flies in the face of the authors of historical novels who meticulously research their field.
First of all, Isabelle's code name, Anyone who has read even a single book about undercover work during the wars would know that the first rule in giving an agent a code name is that it does not even hint at the agent's real identity. Now Isabelle's surname is Rosignol. Her code name is The Nightingale. Rosignol means nightingale in French. I rest my case.
My second criticism has to do with Isabelle's character. We first get to know her as a wild, rebellious, hard-headed teenager who always gets her own way. We are supposed to believe that overnight, without any gradual coming-of-age moments, she turns into a mature and selfless heroine capable of leading grown men over mountains she has only navigated once in her life, risking life and limb to do so, obeying orders like a docile little lamb. Sorry, no!
I was rather late in reading this book, but had heard a lot of praise for it, and with a movie adaptation also in the works, I wanted to ensure I read the novel first. This is my first read from Kristin Hannah, so I was not sure quite what to expect from her, however, I usually enjoy period novels, and was interested in the idea of exploring World War II from the perspective of women.
Overall, this book didn't quite live up to the hype for me personally and I feel that I have read better World War II novels. That's not to say I thought it a bad book, and certainly I liked a lot of the ideas, and thought Kristin did a particularly good job of conveying the day to day harsh realities of life in Occupied France, be it the struggle to purchase enough food, with the endless queuing only to be served scraps with which to make ends meet. She also really managed to convey the terrors of families being torn apart, children separated from their parents, and in particular the persecution of the Jewish community. As I've already mentioned I liked that this book was from the perspective of women, telling of their struggles during this terrible time, and also the ways in which they played their part in the war effort too.
I quite liked the set up of the story, as the novel opens in the 1990s in America with an elderly lady and hints of her past, though we don't discover her identity until the novel's close. These parts in the more modern day are only fleeting though, and the vast majority of the story takes part in the earlier time frame in France.
I also liked that Kristin doesn't portray all Germans as bad, with Beck's character in particular highlighting that many of these soldiers were just men away from their own homes and families too. At the same time, she shows some of the French citizens betraying their own people and enjoying their positions of privilege under the Nazi rule, such that it is not all black and white, though of course plenty of Nazi brutality is shown too.
When it came to the two sisters, I did initially find it easier to connect to Vianne as opposed to Isabelle, who at times just came across as childish and impulsive to the point of reckless. Certainly she did grow on me, and to be fair there were times in the story where Vianne rather grated on my nerves too. In some ways I felt that Kristin had made the characters somewhat too cliched in just how opposite they were. There was development of both characters in the story, and I did think she captured the complicated relationship between them. Did I quite believe Isabelle as this SOE heroine, well the answer is no.
One of my main criticisms would be that the plot and characters felt too contrived at times. Also some of the romance was just laughably bad, such as between Isabelle and Gaetan. At times it seemed that Kristin was trying too hard with things, and yet scenes that should have hit hard, missed the mark for me, and as the story went on it dragged and felt more tedious in parts. Also I'm pretty sure there were some gaping mistakes, with characters just conveniently turning up where Kristin wanted them to be for the sake of the plot.
In the end this turned out to be a very average read for me, which didn't live up to its potential or the hype, mainly because of the writing and characterisation.