The Nightingale is historically flawed
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) begins with a backstory of an elderly woman in Oregon planning to return to France. At that time we don’t know what her role was in World War II, but figure it was highly traumatic.
Flashback to 1939. Two sisters lost their mother when they were young. Their father is a World War I veteran—traumatized, distant, almost indifferent to their lives. The younger Isabelle is shipped off to various finishing schools where she can’t seem to finish because of her rowdy insubordination. The older, Viann gets pregnant and is married off at the age of 17. Both girls are angry at their harsh father but Isabelle also hates Viann for not taking her in and keeping her in boarding schools.
As the war begins Viann’s husband is ordered to report to the army, leaving Viann alone with their daughter. Isabelle escapes from another school and tries to rejoin her father who owns a bookstore in Paris.
France loses the war and is occupied by German troops. Isabelle, consistent with her rebellious demeanor joins the French resistance and spends the war escorting downed allied pilots through the Pyrenees Mountains to Spain. Viann’s home is requisitioned by German forces and she is forced to live with a Wehrmacht captain and later a Gestapo or SS officer.