Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah
July 5-August 1, 2016

Paris during Word War II. Seems to be a trending topic for novels these days. And I'm the first to admit that I am completely drawn to them. There is the saying "never forget, lest history repeat itself," and I think The Nightingale does justice to the horrific events of the war. It's nearly unfathomable what people suffered in Paris, let alone throughout Europe. Nightingale focuses on the women left behind while their husbands bravely try to stay alive and return home.

The story's heroines, though very different sisters, had an unbreakable bond. Truly some of the best character development I have ever read. I was enthralled from page one until I was utterly sobbing by the last page. When I think about it now, I still can't believe what Parisians had to endure, and for so long.
“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.”
A few adjectives come to mind while I try to think of what to say about this book. Beautiful: The people, the friendships, the landscapes. Excruciating: The descriptions of Nazi torture, the concentration camps, and the human suffering. Heart-wrenching: What we will do for love and survival. Bravery: I learned more about the women left at home than I ever knew. And the public opinion of these women in the 1940s.

I know there are plenty of comparisons to All the Light We Cannot See. I will say that I liked each book equally, but the only comparison that should be made is on the subject matter. Both are brilliant in their own ways.

* * * * * 

The Art Forger

by B.A. Shapiro
May30-July4, 2016

It's been ages since I listened to an audiobook. I got myself burned out on them and needed a break. But there's something about long weekends, yard work and a great narrator in my ear that makes me happy. Luckily, I achieved two out of three with this one. But, I'm also a sucker for Degas, so it was all worth it.

Claire is a legitimate art forger, or more politically correct, a reproductionist. However, she's naive to the point of exasperation. I had many "of course" and "duh!" moments, but I did enjoy the true art history portions of the story. It's not an incredibly deep narrative, but kind of a fun one that is based around the real-life art heist in Boston in 1990.

My biggest issue was the narrator. The best word I can come up with to describe her style is "breathy." It demeaned the main character probably more than it was intended. I think it made Claire more of a pushover, more insipid, than she actually was. Good narration isn't always easy to find.

Still, a fun little lesson in art history with great descriptions of painting styles thrown in for good measure. Might be better to read than listen to.

* * * * *