The Nightingale - A Cautionary Tale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a brilliant novel, set in France during WWII. It is a story of two sister's lives during the German invasion and take-over in the early 1940s. It is a story of beauty in the ordinary, as well as a story of courageous decisions taken by the two women, their family and friends as they struggle to survive.

Hannah writes stunning descriptions, and I was right there with Vianne in a small rural village as she tried to grow and gather enough food to feed her children. I was also with Isabelle as she bravely fought with the French Resistance. 

At one point the local Mother Superior tells Vianne, "Don't think about who they are. Think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what will break you."

Vianne responds, "It's all breaking me."

The story is also about France, and how its people did not believe that fascism could take hold there. When the young French men left for war, most thought the Maginot Line (the concrete fortifications, obstacles and weapon installations built on the French/German border in the 1930s) would hold the Germans back and the fighting would be brief.

Once invaded many initially thought their day to day lives would continue much the same.

While reading I kept thinking about the United States today. Is it inching toward fascism as the greedy, selfish and hateful take over? Is Russia, like WWII Germany in France, controlling what's really happening in the U.S.?

Are the Republicans like the Vichy government? Giving away their country for their own sense of security and selfish needs? It certainly seems like they have turned their back on democracy and the majority of the American people. 

What about Trump supporters? Have they become equal to those French who turned their backs on their neighbors and capitulated with the Nazis and SS?

And Trump? He is more like the sociopathic blowhard Mussolini than the leaders of the Vichy. Nevertheless his hatred and temper tantrums are growing in number, as he takes apart American democracy, to the joy of the Russian government.

The French thought it would never happen because of their secure borders. Americans have been taught that it can never happen because of the separation of governmental powers. The Nightingale is a historical novel that is a cautionary tale for today, as the U.S. creeps toward fascism. It can happen anywhere.