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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nightingale by Aleksandr Voinov

I enjoyed this book, but at the same time, there were times I felt a bit lost in the gloom of occupied Paris. This IS a romance story told solely from Yves POV, but it's mostly HIS story. The few years he spent as the NIghtingale, a performer - singer and entertainer to the Parisian crowds as well as the Germans occupying the city during WWII. His story is heart breaking but it's also hopeful in it's own way though mostly I felt hard decisions brought Yves to a better place in life. Always compromising something. 

Yves's mother was a famous singer so it's no wonder he inherited the art, and yet mostly he enjoyed making jokes and singing songs in small clubs. That changed after he met Maurice - owner of a few clubs around Paris, most distinguished is "The Palace". Maurice seeing Yves' potential offers him to perform and when a high ranking German officer takes a liking to Yves it becomes a sort of a vouch Maurice and really, every frenchman should have. It's obvious Heinrich von Starck wants more than Yves' friendship and though Yves is flattered he is unsure of any sort of romantic relations with "the enemy", just seeing the uniform disgusts him and yet Heinrich does feel and mostly behave differently when what he expects and the way he protects Yves might prove useful and so he finds himself in a sort of relationship with him he isn't proud of.. while he does enjoy the man's company, anything else he mostly endures. 

Things get complicated when a German soldier he helps (though he himself isn't sure of his motive) turn up one night in the club he performs in and tries his best to get closer to Yves. Yet Yves isn't sure what Falk Harfner actually wants considering he doesn't speak any French.. but while he does his best to get closer to Yves through learning French and teaching Yves German they form a connection Yves wouldn't think possible, mostly because music was always his first and only love and second because Falk is a German SS Soldier.. 

But Yves has even more problems than maintaining his relationship with BOTH men like another German officer who intends to hurt him and trying to protect his twin sister who is part of the rebellion. This book has a few happy moments, mostly it's a sad and at times even depressing book. I mean, what can you expect considering the time and place this book takes place in? Yet there IS hope in Yves and Falk's relationship, the song of the NIghtingale and the Hawk was so, well, sweet! 

It took me awhile to get into the story. I'm not sure if it's the general sad setting or the the specific details of living in occupied Paris. Similar to Yves I was lost and it took me a while to be found and see where this book was headed. I liked it and enjoyed it, found it so on-point in the way Yves saw and acted in the impossible world around him, yet I can't say I fell in love with this book. Also there is NO WAY it's actually 256 pages as stated on Amazon. It MUST be more, it felt more and took me longer than it should. 

I recommend this book, I certainly do (!) because Aleksandr has a way of bringing the most unfortunate circumstances into a hopeful one and portraying realistic characters you can't utely love or hate, they are just flawlessly human. 

I LOVED the two other WWII novels I've read by him - "Unhinge the Universe" and "Broken Blades" they both left me out of breath and TOTALLY in love. I wish I would have felt the same here but maybe it's about being in the right mood to accept a somewhat impossible living situation where hope feels unattainable (yet it is when all is said and done..). 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 256 pages, 27-29 November 2016 / On GoodReads

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