Jun 03, 2021bethwpr rated this title 3 out of 5 stars
I am a Kristin Hannah fan, however, The Nightingale remains the high bar.
I had high hopes for this book given its context of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, along with the writing style of Hannah. However, overall this book was too dramatic and over-the-top and at the end really reeked more of a manifesto than a moving drama.
Toward the beginning of the book, I felt for Elsa and her ability to adapt when forced to move to the farm. However, as Dust Bowl conditions worsened...and worsened...and worsened... and...
and her husband and later her daughter pleaded with her to move, her denial and self doubts became beyond the pale. I don't think it would've taken a near death for most people in that situation to finally accept moving, after all the incredible amount of devastation the family endured just to get to that point.
Then, during the last quarter of the book, I felt like this story became a communist manifesto, and I say that as someone who is left-leaning in her beliefs. Look, I get that Big Farms and the government conspired against migrants, I even get that a strike was necessary, but the plot points lining up like little soldiers, more devastation and indignity after another, to lead the reader to be sympathetic and conclude that movement was the only answer was truly over the top. It read like a left version of Ayn Rand. There was a way to include those elements from a more objective plot point/narration that wouldn't have that insinuation, but I think Hannah wanted it that way, which is disappointing. Moreso that in the end, that whole part of that story was then used as a means for Elsa to "find her voice." Speaking of which, Elsa was just very tiresome. It had to take death or near death for her to act or find her voice throughout this story, every time the family was in dire straits.
This book was well researched, the story, despite its shortcomings, compelling, but ultimately, disappointing. I gave it three stars due to the quality of the writing (flow, descriptions, editing) and its compelling nature.