REVIEW | The Nightingale | Kristin Hannah

What's it about?

You will most definitely need a box of tissues close by when you read this heart breaking tale of two sister's set in the depths of France, World War II. The story is told of two very different sisters - Vianne is content living in the French countryside with her husband and young daughter and Isabelle is fearless, thriving on adventure, living in the heart of France in Paris.

As the War unfolds, both are tested, faced with challenging decisions and frightening situations. They act in ways in which they never thought possible, acting with bravery, love, resistance and the need and want to survive. The resounding question the narrative asks 'When would I, as a wife and mother, risk my life…and most important, my child’s life…to save a stranger?’ slices right to my core after reading this heart wrenching tale.

My opinion:

I loved that the tale told the story of the women of World War II; the heroins left behind by their men that went to fight on the front line. Although there were aspects of a love story within the novel, this was not the focus. The focus was on the strength, courage and bravery of these two women that put their lives at risk to save others. The way in which their story was told was gripping and exciting but also heart breaking and emotional, a real turbulence of emotions.

The tale has left a lasting impression on me as I have a younger sister myself and I questioned how we would both take effect if such tragedy ever struck. Despite the characters differences, much like myself and my sister, Hannah portrays their unconditional love for one another perfectly. It evoked powerful emotions for me from start to end. By the end of the book I was sobbing my eyes out, it was such a vivid story and at points I felt as though I were there along side the characters, smelling the baked breads and smokey ash filled air.

Praise for The Nightingale

"Beautifully written... packed with action and emotion."
- Sara Green, bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“I loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. She has captured a particular slice of French life during World War II with wonderful details and drama. But what I loved most was the relationship between two sisters and Hannah’s exploration of what we do in moments of great challenge.” 
Lisa See, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
I would love to know your thoughts on this book when you read it/if you have already so please do let me know. If you have enjoyed reading it and would like to read something similar then I recommend Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See which I have also written a review about here.

REVIEW | The Pirates of Penzance | Warwick Arts Centre

If you have never been to see an opera before and you would like to ease your way in with something a little more whimsical - a performance that offers the typical love story, fabulously written music but all inclusive of comicality then The Pirates of Penzance is the one for you. I went to see this production recently by Opera Warwick at the Warwick Arts Centre and thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

The tale of a love story involves 21-year-old Frederick, a young apprentice to be released of his obligations by tender-hearted pirates on his 21st year, only to realise that he was born on the 29th February of a leap year and is in fact technically only 5 and a bit years old. He battles with his love for the Major Generals daughter and 63 years of duty left to serve with the Pirates of Penzance.

Music written by Gilbert and Sulivan - the orchestra played superbly and the cast was strong too. In the lead comic role of Major-General Stanley, Charlie Cooper perfected the 'Patter-Song' and his timing was spot on. A truly talented young woman, Eleanor Sterland played the part of Mabel and dazzled the audience with her bel canto melodies.

The opera was made by the intimate studio stage setting. The production was up close and personal amongst a small audience which meant that the production was very engaging and added to it's comicality. The orchestra (pictured above) were in plain sight on their very own stage, higher up at the back of the performance which I found delightful as it is not often you are able to watch both actors and musicians perform.

An entirely captivating evening from start to end, I could not recommend seeing this opera enough when you get the chance. Written with brilliant humour and clear-cut wit, it makes for the perfect night out. The rendition of The Pirates of Penzance by Opera Warwick was only on for a couple of days throughout June 2017 so be sure to keep your eye out for a performance of this opera near you.

I look forward to watching more of Opera Warwick's performances. They have a varied range of actors and strong operatic and expressive singers. If you would like to read more on Opera Warwick, ran by a University of Warwick society, and what's on next take a look here.

| Where to eat? |

I chose to eat pretty much on campus, just minutes away from Warwick Arts Centre at the Varsity pub. It's got a nice chilled out student atmosphere but attracts the business park clientele as food might be cheap but the drinks are not!

I would also recommend Hickory's Smokehouse in Burton Green. Around a 5-10 minute drive away. This place will certainly fill you up before/after visiting the Art Centre. It's like stepping into America's Deep South with mouth watering ribs, steaks, briskets and much more!

Lastly, The Bear Inn Berkswell, a Chef and Brewer chain pub around a 10-15 minute drive away. It's a classic country pub and the food is always great and a firm favourite of my families.

Time for Tea

I absolutely love tea. I’ve explored lots of hot drinks over the past year or so and have found different teas to suit how I’m feeling. Whether I’m feeling happy, sad, stressed or a little run down, there is always a perfect tea to match how I’m feeling and make me feel content again. As it’s such an important part of my life, I thought I’d share my tea feels with you to help you in your time of need too.

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