Two sisters, as different as they can be, are sent away by their father whose WWI experience changed him so much that when his beloved wife dies, he can no longer be father to them. As WWII rushes into their lives all three confront it differently. The younger sister rushes headlong into resistance groups doing whatever she can. The older sister sees the love of her life march away leaving her with her young daughter to survive as best she can. Each plays a specific part in resisting German occupation until at long last France can be liberated. The book details the lives of the sisters involving the father only when their lives somehow intersect. It's a sad story that can bring tears to the eyes of the reader. Like many historical novels of this period, it tells a story of how horrific it was to live under the cruel Nazis.
Kristin Hannah has written a really excellent fictional account of the cruelty and horrors eagerly committed by the Nazis in German-occupied France during WWII. The incredible courage and sacrifice of two estranged sisters are at the heart of a novel that begins when an elderly woman opens a trunk filled with memories. The characters are as well developed as the plot. I found this book to be absolutely riveting with a perfect, poignant ending. The inevitable comparison for me was to the equally compelling Suite Francaise by Nemirovsky.
Sometimes you read a book and it's pretty much forgotten within a month or two. Sometimes you read a book and you know that its characters will stay with you forever, as if you knew them personally and cared about what happened to them. This is how I feel about Isabelle and Vianne, two sisters facing the cruelties and challenges of living in WWII Occupied France. One is highly motivated to work with the French Resistance and bravely helps downed British and American airmen. The other must share her home with two different Nazi officers, one somewhat kind and the other cruelly sadistic. The sisters each assist the Allies and Jewish families in their own courageous ways. Highly recommended reading!