Kristin Hannah weaves a tale
of wartime risks—and hope
MIKE SMI TH
By Andrea Downing Peck
WOULD YOU RISK your
life—and, more important,
your child’s life—to save the
life of a stranger? That’s the
question that haunted best-selling author Kristin
Hannah and drove her to
write The Nightingale, a riveting and emotional journey tracing the lives of two
sisters who put themselves
in harm’s way during the Nazi occupation of France.
In our digital editions
Click here to watch a video of Kristin
Hannah talking about her novel The
Nightingale. (See page 12 for details.)
and waters her imagination.
In The Nightingale, Hannah tells the story of
Isabelle, who joins the French Resistance and creates
an escape route to Spain for downed Allied airmen,
and her estranged sister, who struggles to keep her
own family alive during World War II.
“If you are a certain kind of person and can live
anywhere in the world, this place speaks to you,”
Hannah tells The Connection during a conversation
in a coffee shop in her hometown of Bainbridge
Island, Washington. “There is a certain individual
that is drawn to the landscape, lifestyle, mountains,
ocean and sound. I also think the rain makes us
more productive. There are a lot of days where there
is really nothing else to do. You might as well write.”
OVER THE YEARS, I’ve
come to respect Kristin
Hannah as a writer of
contemporary, heartwarming stories that
focus on family and
friendship. While her
new novel, The Nightingale, this month’s
Pennie’s Pick, features
those two elements, it
offers readers much,
Hannah first learned about the unheralded wartime heroics of ordinary women in war-torn Europe
while researching an earlier novel, Winter Garden.
Though she subsequently turned to other storylines
in the three novels that followed Winter Garden, she
was drawn back to the forgotten female heroes of
An attorney for the first portion of her professional life, Hannah credits her legal background for
the “organization, analysis, discipline and editing”
skills that are hallmarks of her writing.
“I really believe Nightingale is the book I was
born to write,” Hannah says.
“Those are the skills I use most in my writing,”
says Hannah, who writes her novels longhand on
yellow legal pads. “I’m not a good seat-of-the-pants
gal at anything. If I am going to plan a first grader’s
birthday party, it’s going to take a while. That’s just
how it is.”
“Women’s stories aren’t told enough about war.
I like to explore the courage and heroism of ordinary women—mothers protecting their children,
sisters protecting each other,” she says. “That’s the
basis for The Nightingale.”
St. Martin’s Press editor Jennifer Enderlin
expects The Nightingale to expand Hannah’s reach
as an author, bridging genres and drawing in readers of historical fiction.
It’s 1939, and sisters
Vianne and Isabelle are
surviving the best they
can in troubled France.
After Vianne’s husband
heads to the front, a
German soldier requisitions their home. Meanwhile, Isabelle, the
rebellious younger sister,
suffers a romantic
betrayal that spurs her to
join the Resistance.
Hannah spent a month living in France while
researching The Nightingale, enough time to gain a
deeper understanding of the country’s culture and
wartime history. The Pacific Northwest, however,
more typically provides the backdrop for her novels
“This book is so wonderfully researched you
feel as though you are in the time period,” Enderlin
says. “Anyone who wants breathtaking historical
detail will come to this book. This is a wider audience than Kristin has seen before.”
Hannah depicts, in
such detail, what the
women of that time went
sacri;ces and risks
necessary to survive—
that this story will linger
with readers for years.
(Item #966852, 2/3)
Signed book gıveaway
Hannah’s mother first suggested she consider a
writing career when they teamed up to outline a
romantic historical novel set in Scotland, a collaboration that took place to pass the time while her
mother was in the final stages of a battle with cancer. Years later, when Hannah was pregnant with
her son and bed rest was prescribed, she dusted off
their research and began writing anew.
For more book picks,
see page 71.
COSTCO HAS 50 signed copies of Kristin
Hannah’s The Nightingale to give away.
To enter, go to: costcoconnectionbook
NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT OR OPT-IN OF AN Y KIND IS
NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES.
Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Sweepstakes is
sponsored by Macmillan, 175th Ave., New York, NY 10010. Open to
legal residents of the U.S. (except Puerto Rico) who are age 18 or
older at the time of entry. One entry per household. Entries must be
received before the March issue is available online, which will
happen around February 25, 2015. Winners will be randomly
selected and noti;ed by mail on or before April 1, 2015. The value of
the prize is $26. Void where prohibited. Winners are responsible for
all applicable federal, state and local taxes. Odds of winning depend
on the number of eligible entries received. Employees of Costco or
Macmillan and their families are not eligible.
t n o n e t an n w e s f their research and began writing anew. c s tm m t s e a d s d da h r t more with me as a reader, and those l
After more than two decades as a published
author, Hannah, 54, says she “absolutely has favorites” among her 21 books.
“I do as much as I can to make a book as close to
my vision, as polished, as it can possibly be, but, at
the end of the day, some books are more ones I
would choose to read as a reader than others,”
says Hannah. “Some characters speak to
me more, some books simply resonate
more with me as a reader, and those
tend to be my favorites. The Nightingale
is now my absolute favorite.” C
Andrea Downing Peck is a freelance writer
from Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Pennie Clark Ianniciello,
Costco book buyer
2/10/15 12:39 PM