I avoided reading this book forever because it seemed like it would bore me (this is based on nothing but the fact that it was a rising bestseller about WWII). Then, it was suggested as a book club double feature with The Nightingale, so I picked it up. It goes without saying, this book was far better. The characters were well-drawn and complex, and the story was riveting and expertly-paced. It will break your heart more than once.
My favorite sentence in the entire book comes very near the end, when one character says of another, “It was hard for him not to do what was expected of him.” In that one small sentence, an explanation of the actions of entire countries’ actions during the war (looking at you, France) can be found.
I especially liked the ending and how the memories of that horrible time lived on in all those who survived, even if they could now eat pork seven days a week, as one character remarked, or their old houses and been razed or turned into fancy hotels. As a thirtysomething American, I can’t understand the impact of living through a war that’s waged on our soil for years, but this book made me think a lot about the long-lasting effect such a thing has on a culture and society. Recommended.