A YEAR LATER
Reflections from Kristin
As I sit down to write this—my thoughts and feelings on the whirlwind that has accompanied the publication of The Nightingale, almost 18 months later—what comes to mind first is the word gratitude. I am unbelievably grateful for the way readers have embraced The Nightingale. In my travels for the novel, I have met with people from almost every state, and I’ve been able to speak with dozens more on the phone. Over and over, I hear about the novel’s profound impact on people. I especially love to hear stories of personal connection—so many families have experiences similar to Isabelle’s and Vianne’s, and the novel becomes a beautiful starting point for sharing those stories. I love that. It’s all too easy for family stories to be lost.
I have been writing for thirty years and have written more than twenty novels. Believe me, I know how rare it is for a novel to sweep the country—the world—the way The Nightingale has. That is has happened with a book I wrote is, quite frankly, almost impossible to wrap my mind around. For me, The Nightingale started like any other novel. With research. I came across the historical stories of the women of the French Resistance and there was no going back. Their stories were mesmerizing, heartbreaking, intimate and universal. I was appalled that their stories were not better known.
All of my research led me to a central question: When would I, as a wife and mother, risk my life and my son’s life to save a stranger? Once that was in my head, I knew I had a story worth telling.
I’ll admit. It felt special to me from the very beginning. I believed I could write something truly unique and important about these women and this time and place. I fell in love with my characters and the setting and the dark atmosphere of a world at war. And when I finally finished, more than two years later, I believed it was a novel people would like. But never in my wildest dreams did I foresee the future which has come to pass. I never imagined it would stay on the bestseller list for well over a year, that it would hit number one, that it would hurtle toward becoming a movie. Truthfully, it’s all a little surreal. Sometimes it seems that it must all be happening to someone else.
I am thrilled and grateful and humbled by all of it. I am also proud that so many people love the book.
Now comes the really hard work: Answering the inevitable question. What’s next?
So it’s back to work for me…