Throughout the years, I have discovered the exciting and complex novels by author Kristin Hannah. Currently located in the Pacific Northwest, Hannah has written over 20 novels that feature strong women overcoming various challenges. Previously a lawyer, Hannah has won many awards and has been placed on the bestselling list, including my favorites The Nightingale, The Great Alone, and Winter Garden.
First published in 2015, The Nightingale has risen to international success. Starting in 1939 France at the beginning of World War II, Vianne Mauriac’s husband and daughter’s father, Antoine, heads off to war. The fear of Nazis invading France is on the minds of everyone and quickly the fear becomes a reality. Vianne and her daughter must open up their home to a Nazi captain or otherwise they will be placed in danger. With a German solider living in their home, the two experience challenges and adventures they could never have imagined, a story that is much different from Vianne’s sister Isabelle. Eighteen-year-old Isabelle is strong-willed and unaware of the terrors that a war can bring. While in Paris, Isabelle joins the French Resistance movement with the hope of fighting the Nazis. The two sisters fight the war in their own ways with two very different outcomes. Currently, The Nightingale has been published in 43 languages and is in production to become a movie. Within the novel, Hannah captures the little-known war within World War II, the women’s war and story of survival.
The Great Alone
The Great Alone is another story of survival, but instead of sisters, this novel focuses on a mother and daughter, fighting the harsh elements of Alaska. Set in the 1970s, a time when the nation was fighting the Vietnam War, Ernt Allbright decides to move his wife Cora and thirteen-year-old daughter Leni to the Alaskan bush to get away from the harsh reality and news of the war. Ernt, a former POW in Vietnam, suffers from PTSD and can be violent at any moment with his fragile mental state, but Cora will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves. As for Leni, the move to the last frontier is one that is hard to grasp. At first, the family falls in love with the vast wildness, but with winter soon approaching and sunlight becoming scant, Ernt struggles to maintain his composure and battle his nightmares. Over the years, the Allbright family battles their share of obstacles and challenges until one night, Leni and Cora discover they are alone and must save themselves. The Great Alone is a can’t miss story about the spirit of American pioneers and conquering one of the nation’s last frontiers.
A perfect combination of the mother and daughter story and the sister story. While Meredith and Nina Whitson may be sisters, they are as different as anything. When their father falls ill, the stay at home mom and the famous photojournalist sisters must come together to help him. Before his passing, their father has one last request for the sisters and their disapproving and uncomforting mother, Anya. Meredith and Nina soon discover the hidden tale of their mother’s past and a love story that started in Leningrad and moved to Alaska. As additional secrets begin to be reveled, the family must rethink exactly who they are. Winter Garden comes with the tagline, “Sometimes when you open the door to your mother’s past, you find your own future.”
If you like mystery, romance, and discovery of one’s strengths blended together in one novel, books by Kristin Hannah are must-reads for you. Start with these three and you will quickly want more.