The Nightingale will prompt great conversation at your book club. For additional prompts, here are some questions to enliven your discussion.
Considering Isabelle and Vianne, would you rather be loved, admired, or known?
How does war change Julien, Vianne and Isabelle?
How do the sisters’ weaknesses become strengths?
How did war change their definition of love?
On page 43, Isabelle states that there are different types of prisons. How are the characters imprisoned and by what?
Was the initial thesis statement on page 1 answered? “In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
Who did you think was the first-person narrator?Did this change as you progressed through the novel?
What motivates Isabelle? What motivates Vianne?
The Mother predicts Isabelle will have a crisis of faith (p. 126). Does she?
How does Sarah’s fate change Vianne’s parenting? (p. 264-266)
Which character can you relate to?
Which characters choose forgiveness and what is the result?
In what ways do Isabelle and Vianne long to be like the other and how does this make them two halves of a whole?
Regarding love, Antoine says, “It’s not forgetting we need…..It’s remembering…(p. 397) – What does he mean?
How had the two boys both broken and saved Vianne?
How do the mistakes of each character change them? What do we do with our mistakes and how do they change us?
How does the definition of love on page 428 resonate with you?
It was the beginning and end of everything, the foundation and the ceiling and the air in between. It didn’t matter that she was broken and ugly and sick. He loved her and she loved him. All her life she had waited---longed for—people to love her, but now she saw what really mattered. She had known love, been blessed by it.
18. Find quotes that you love. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Time was the one luxury no one had anymore. Tomorrow felt as ephemeral as a kiss in the dark.” (p. 316)
“Sadness and loss were drawn in with each breath but never expelled.” ( p. 401)
Isabelle had traded kisses with boys as if they were pennies to be left on park benches and lost in chair cushions—meaningless.” (p. 57)
19. Consider these quotes for discussion.
“Love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.” (p. 410)
“Don’t think about who they are. Think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what will break you.” (p. 126)
“Prayers and faith will not be enough. The path of righteousness is often dangerous.” (p. 127). What does Mother mean? How is this a foreshadowing?
“I know now what matters, and it is not what I have lost. It is my memories. Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.” (p. 438)
“We are all fragile, Isabelle. It’s the thing we learn in war.” –Julien (p. 199)
“And this wasn’t the end. She had to remember that. Each day she lived there was a chance for salvation. She couldn’t give up. She could never give up.” (p. 380) --Isabelle on the way to Ravensbruck.