The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale

Behind the Book

Sometimes a story sneaks up on you, hits you hard and dares you to look away.  That was the case with The Nightingale.  In truth, I did everything I could not to write this novel.  But when research on World War II led me to the story of a young Belgian woman who had created an escape route out of Nazi-Occupied France, I was hooked.  Her story—one of heroism and danger and unbridled courage—inspired me to imagine the women in that world.  I simply couldn’t turn away.  I had to keep digging, discovering, reading, and that story led me to others that were equally fascinating.  Stories about women who had saved Jewish children and rescued downed airmen and put themselves in harm’s way to save others.  Women who had paid terrible, unimaginable prices for their heroism.

Their stories were impossible to ignore.  I found myself consumed with a single, haunting question, as relevant today as it was seventy years ago: When would I, as a wife and mother, risk my life—and more importantly, my child’s life– to save a stranger?

That question is at the very heart of The Nightingale. In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.  And sometimes, perhaps, we don’t want to know what we would do to survive.

In war, women’s stories are all too often forgotten or overlooked.  Women tend to come home from the battlefield and say nothing and go on with their lives.  The Nightingale is a novel about those women and the daring, dangerous choices they made to save their children and their way of life.