The Nightingale + Lilac Girls

Two! I have leisure-read TWO books in the last 6 months! (Yes, this is HUGE! No, I don't need a bunch of new suggestions. Give me some time to recover with my DVR, OK? :-P) I read über-acclaimed The Nightingale back around New Year's; I kept wanting to blog about it…but I didn't know what to say that hasn't been said, other than I loooved it. It was like *THE* book the last two years, and I don't ever want to give away plot spoilers or be redundant, when you can look up the synopsis anywhere. It's about two sisters in WWII France, and both of their lives are very different. WWII Europe is my "favorite" (that word seems wrong, as the circumstances are horrific; "most engrossing/gripping" is more accurate) genre of books & movies, so when literally every bookworm friend I have told me I needed to read The Nightingale, I queued up for it on our library holds list. That was the first week of June last summer; it wasn't my turn until the holidays. :-O I absolutely devoured it! I ignored TV, FB, my family, everything, & stayed up reading until 3 AM. [Note: this is part of why I don't regularly enjoy leisure reading – there's nothing leisurely about it for me. I get obsessed & feel like I'm making myself take a timed test until it's done.] The Nightingale was action-packed! It fired on every cylinder for me, and it left me desperate to travel back to France. If there were any remote way I could afford to hop on a plane to Paris today… I'd love to go back & visit the countryside, too – when I lived in Würzburg, I spent a vacay week with a friend of a friend's family who had a winery in Gaillac - beyond Toulouse, close to Albi. I kept thinking of that, along with a few days in Limoges, too, during all of the parts with Vianne. I don't have anything new & fresh to say about it, other than it's incredible & so worth reading.

When I shared on FB that I'd actually read it, another book in the same vein came up: Lilac Girls. I filed the title away for a less busy season. (Not during cheer Nationals! :-D) When Annelise decided to tackle the Harry Potter series this summer, I figured I should get a book to read at the same time with her at some point, too. Cue (& queue up for) Lilac Girls. It became available quicker than I expected, so it's been my world this week.

This book is also about women during WWII... but it's different. Again, I refuse to give plot spoilers & synopses, but trust me. The juxtaposition of three concurrent stories absolutely fascinated me. Also, it's the first book I *had* to put down...and that's not a bad thing. It was just so shattering to take in at one (fairly early) point, I had to stop and watch some Bob Ross, so I wouldn't go to bed thinking about it. Lilac Girls disturbed me in a way The Nightingale did not. One is not better; they're different. I think in my own avid WWII info overload, I've heard a decent amount from the oppressed people's points of view. The haunting thing here was getting a glimpse into how a perpetrator could begin & then go down that heinous path... The mindset... *shudder*

I also really loved that the author continued into post-war years and especially that she included an Author's Note at the end, detailing what was historically true, where she had taken literary license, and how/where she did all the research to make it as historically accurate as possible. The fact that so much of Lilac Girls - including exact characters - is absolutely true hits my heart in a deeper way; even though so many things in The Nightingale *did* also happen, the actual village & characters are fictionalized, instead inspired by different bits of numerous real stories.

Both quality, highly recommended WWII reads from female points of view.


  1. First of all, congrats on reading two books!!! Secondly, you make me want to take a trip to Europe! :)

    You did such a great job summarizing and reviewing these books without giving away too much of the story. Definitely made me want to learn more!!

  2. I've got The Nightingale on my to-read list, too, so I'm glad to hear that it's as good as I've heard!


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