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15 Invigorating Books Like The Nightingale

Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Louisa

One aspect of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah I love is the strength of the two female protagonists. Vianne and Isabelle are strong, heroic, and brave.

After I turned the last page, I was instantly looking for books like The Nightingale that gave me the strong, girl power vibes.

Whether you’re looking for another historical fiction novel or you’re thinking of mixing things up with a modern-day read, then you might enjoy the following books similar to The Nightingale.

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Quick Answer: Top 3 Picks!

Need a book fast but don’t have a lot of time? These are my three favorites…

Our Favourites!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: A Novel

#1 Best Highly Acclaimed Novel

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • A fictional tale about a Hollywood movie star giving her final interview with an unknown journalist.
  • Nominated for Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction in 2017
  • Winner of an Audie Award

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

#2 Best Historical Fiction

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

  • About two teens living during World War II, a blind girl in Nazi-occupied France and a German orphan boy
  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction in 2015
  • New York Times bestselling author

The Vanishing Half: A GMA Book Club Pick (A Novel)

#3 Best Female-Empowerment Story

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett 

  • About two women born in a small black community who grow up to lead very different lives
  • It has topics of racial identity and bigotry, as well as family secrets and finding one place in society
  • Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction and National Book Award for Fiction in 2020

Related Reading: Authors like Kristen Hannah

Summary of The Nightingale

Before I introduce you to similar books to The Nightingale, let’s quickly look back on the story. It might have been a while since you read it, so let’s refresh our minds…

The Nightingale is a historical fiction novel set in the sleepy village of Carriveau in France during WWII.

Vianne Mauriac was one of many wives to say goodbye to their husbands heading for the frontline, and she was one of many who didn’t think the Nazis would invade France, but they did.

As the soldiers piled in with their flanks of trucks and tanks, planes dropping bombs on the innocent, a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, forcing her and her daughter to live with the enemy.

The danger begins to escalate without food or money, and she is forced to make impossible choices to keep her family alive.

Meanwhile, Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a young, rebellious teenager looking to find her place.

She meets Gaëtan, a partisan whose rebellious attitude and hopes of destroying the Nazis from within causes her to fall in love. But he betrays her, and she decides to join the Resistance risking her life to save others.

This is a novel full of courage, grace, and resilience. It captures the place of women in worn-torn France in WWII, capturing an illuminating part of history that has seldom been told. 

The Nightingale is about two sisters who have very different lives, ideals, and circumstances, but each is looking for freedom in German-occupied France.

Related Reading: Book Club Questions for The Nightingale

Best Books Like The Nightingale

Now you have been reminded of the story, it’s time to show you a selection of books to read after The Nightingale

1. Lilac Girls – Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls is an exciting book set in France that follows 3 different women during 1939, as Hitler invades France. Despite everything that’s going on around them, each character is determined to find love and happiness.

Caroline is an American socialite on a diplomatic mission in France on the eve of the war. Kasia is the courier for an underground resistance movement.

Herta is a young German doctor looking for meaning in her life.

As their paths cross, things are about to change drastically for all 3 women. Each of them will experience tragedy, but will their strength help them triumph? 

The themes of sisterhood and friendship are powerfully portrayed in this novel, and the writing style is engaging and keeps the reader invested to the end.

2. A Woman of No Importance – Sonia Purnell

The Nightingale showed readers a fictional side of the events from 1939. A Woman of No Importance tells a true story of a female spy from that era.

Virginia Hall is the greatest American spy that has ever walked this planet. Initially, she had been rejected for her services because of her gender and prosthetic leg.

This inspired her to join the resistance, where she became a force to reckon with.

Sonia Purnell is the first author to dig deep into the story of this true female hero.

Even though she was a wanted woman, Virginia Hall never stopped helping people. This is an amazing novel to pick up if you want to learn about true events.

The intersection of historical events and personal stories creates a captivating plot that I was well sucked into.

3. All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Do you want to read more books like The Nightingale that follow a character’s journey during the war? I recommend picking up a copy of All The Light We Cannot See to read next.

Marie-Laure lives near Paris with her father. When Nazis invade, they flee to Saint-Malo to live with her uncle by the sea.

Werner is a young German orphan that has become an expert at fixing radios. He’s enlisted to help track down the resistance. 

These kids are just trying to survive during the darkest days of their lives. As their paths cross, readers’ hearts are touched.

I loved the attention to detail in historical accuracy in this book, which adds to the richness of the reading experience.

4. White Chrysanthemum – Mary Lynn Bracht

The Nightingale shows us how strong women can be when they need to protect someone they love. White Chrysanthemum tells the story of the lengths one woman will go to keep her younger sister protected.

During World War II, Hana’s only priority is to keep her younger sister Emi safe. She sacrificed herself so soldiers wouldn’t take her sister. Hana was taken to work in a brothel while Emi remained free. 

More than 60 years later, Emi still feels guilty about her sister’s sacrifice. We love this book because it shows that nothing is stronger than family love.

The depiction of the female experience from a historical lens highlights the struggles and triumphs of women in the past.

**Disclaimer: This book contains scenes of assault, which may disturb some readers.**

5. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven – Chris Cleave

Do you enjoy books from the same era as The Nightingale? If so, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven should be added to your to-read list.

This story centers around 3 individuals from London in 1939. Mary volunteers for the war effort, where she becomes a teacher for rejected children.

Tom is an education administrator who finds Mary a warm welcome after his best friend Alastair enlists in the war.

When Alastair returns, Mary finds herself falling for him. This volatile love triangle keeps readers glued to the pages. 

The historical accuracy and the themes of the time period and events give the novel a strong sense of authenticity.

6. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Do you want to read more books like The Nightingale, where characters come out on top? The Goldfinch will have you hooked til the end. 

Theo is only 13 years old but has seen unimaginable things to most people. He is the survivor of a terrorist attack that took his mother’s life.

Still haunted by what happened, Theo finds an escape by working around art and antiques. 

However, Theo’s new interest soon leads him to a criminal underworld. This suspenseful novel will have readers rooting for Theo’s triumph.

The emotional depth of the characters and their relationships makes the story both compelling and heart-warming.

7. Island of Sweet Pie and Soldiers – Sara Ackerman

Our favorite aspect of The Nightingale is how the female leads overcome obstacles meant to tear them down. If you enjoy these books, you should check Island of Sweet Pie and Soldiers.

This story is set in 1944, during the Pacific War. Violet and her daughter Ella are trying to get their lives back in order after her husband mysteriously disappeared.

To make things more complicated, Violet believes Ella knows something about her husband’s disappearance but is too scared to speak.

Another twist in events has Violet falling for a soldier. However, guilt eats away at her because her husband could still be out there.

The deeply researched historical backdrop adds impressive depth and realism to the novel and it kept me hooked throughout.

8. The Room on Rue Amelie – Kristin Harmel

Another amazing story similar to The Nightingale is The Room on Rue Amelie. This story features three characters whose paths intertwine during World War II.

Ruby’s struggling with a failing marriage and the death of her only child. She takes in Charlotte, a Jewish teen whose parents have been deported.

Thomas is enlisted with the British Air Force. After his mother dies in a German bombing, he feels his work isn’t worth it.

Life hasn’t been fair to these 3 characters. Throughout everything, they find strength in each other to keep going. The well-crafted and complex female characters are truly inspiring and relatable.

9. The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos – Judy Batalion

One of the most intriguing books like The Nightingale is The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos. This true story brings readers into the world of underground resistance.

This resistance group comprises teenagers and young women who witnessed the violent destruction of their neighborhoods.

Together, they’re determined to fight back against the Nazis. These women used their wits and beauty to seduce Nazi soldiers and lure them to death.

The Light Of Days will have you rooting for every heroine in the novel. The themes of empowerment and sisterhood are woven seamlessly into the narrative.

10. The Baker’s Secret – Stephen R. Kiernan

If you’re looking for another riveting book set during the war, then you might want to pick up a copy of The Baker’s Secret. Similar to The Nightingale, this story shows how a woman’s courage can help more people than just herself.

Emma is a 22-year-old baker who has been in the kitchen since she was a child. During the age of war, she’s supplied with extra rations to bake loaves of bread daily for the troops.

Like the Robin Hood of her generation, Emma cut the bread dough with straw to make extra loaves for the hungry villagers.

The risk she takes gives people in her village hope during the darkest time of their lives. 

I found the character development to be one of the best features of this book. The emotional depth of the characters and their relationships makes the story both compelling and heart-warming.

11. The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half is a heartfelt book about two twins who grow up in a small black community, before going their separate ways and then reuniting several years later.

The twins, Stella and Desiree, see an opportunity to escape at 16 and run away. The girls go on to live very different lives, but fate brings them back together.

One of the major themes of this novel is black prejudice and race.

It also explores how our past can shape our future and how decisions, desires, and expectations can force people to live a life different from what they were born into.

I found this book incredibly interesting because it shows the different ways in which people respond to prejudice. I felt that both women were strong and brave, despite their difference of opinions and experiences.

It’s no wonder The Vanishing Half won a National Book Award in 2020 for Best Fiction.

Related Reading: Book Club Questions for The Vanishing Half

12. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Are you eager to read more books like The Nightingale with two female leads? You should add The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to your list.

Evelyn Hugo is a reclusive Hollywood star. She’s lived a life of glamour and never shied away from a scandal.

Every reporter on the planet wanted to tell her story. However, Evelyn chose Monique Grant. 

As someone struggling in her career and has yet to make a name for herself, Monique is stunned by Evelyn’s choice of reporter.

However, she soon learns that Ms. Hugo’s story is connected to her own tragedy.

This was a really exciting read. The plot is filled with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged and invested in the story.

Related Reading: Books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

13. Wild – Kristin Hannah

If you loved The Nightingale, then I recommend you read other books by Kristin Hannah. One that I really enjoyed is Wild.

Julia is a child psychologist who moved back to her hometown after a scandal jeopardizing her career.

She discovers an extraordinary girl who doesn’t speak a word. Julia wants to help this child but doesn’t expect the shocking truth about this young girl’s past.

Will Julia overcome her demons to help this young girl? Wild will have you glued to the pages as you uncover the secrets from this young girl’s past.

I love Kristin Hannah’s writing style, it’s engaging and keeps the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next. The characters had so much depth and I was invested in their stories and what happens to them next.

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14. Winter Garden – Kristin Hannah

One of my favorite Kristin Hannah novels is Winter Garden. It also has two strong female protagonists and a storyline that will have you reaching for the tissues.

The story centers around two sisters, Meredith and Nina. Growing up, their mother seemed cold-hearted.

Even in their adult years, they still have trouble getting close to her. The only thing tying them to their mother is a fairytale story she used to tell them growing up.

The sisters are reunited when their father is on his deathbed. As his dying wish, he wants to tell the fairytale as a whole, from start to finish.

They soon discover this fairytale is based on their mother’s real life and the terrifying secret she’s been keeping.

This novel is well-crafted and has complex female characters that are truly inspiring and relatable.

15. A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

If you haven’t read A Man Called Ove yet, it’s one that you must add to your “to be read” pile.

This book follows the story of Ove, a grumpy old man whom the neighborhood has deemed “the bitter neighbor from hell.” However, there’s more under the surface of Ove’s mean exterior.

Ove hasn’t had the best experiences with people. He has been conned and taken advantage of by people in the past. The only person he cared for, his wife, lost her life in a tragic accident.

These experiences have led to Ove having a hard shell and coming across as a curmudgeon to everyone in his neighborhood.

A different side of the man is revealed when a new family moves in next door, and an unkempt cat enters his life.

This popular best-seller was made into a Swedish movie in 2015, and was turned into another movie starring Tom Hanks in 2022 titled A Man Called Otto.

I loved the character development of Ove who went from a sour, bitter old man to one who can show compassion and empathy. If you think this sounds like a good read to you, then you might like these other books like A Man Called Ove.

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books like the nightingale

Final Words On Books Like The Nightingale

So there you go, those are a few books like The Nightgale that have a strong female lead and stories of bravery and courage.

I hope this list gives you some ideas for your next read.

Have you read an unforgettable story like The Nightingale that I didn’t mention? Let me know about it in the comments below. 

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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