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The Plum Tree

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4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,302 Ratings  ·  962 Reviews
A deeply moving and masterfully written story of human resilience and enduring love, The Plum Tree follows a young German woman through the chaos of World War II and its aftermath.

“Bloom where you’re planted,” is the advice Christine Bolz receives from her beloved Oma. But seventeen-year-old domestic Christine knows there is a whole world waiting beyond her small German vi
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Paperback, 367 pages
Published December 25th 2012 by Kensington (first published 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Debra
Dec 04, 2013 Debra rated it it was amazing
I had the honor to read the original version of The Plum Tree before my dear friend Ellen even had an agent!!!! When I started reading it, I could not put it down. Although it takes place in war torn Germany during the reign of Hitler, the story is more about the German people, their diversity, their strength , their conviction and their perseverance. I believe that this book will appeal to readers of so many genres including historical and romance. It is an absolutely fabulous read and especial ...more
Margitte
This book has been for too long on my TBR, and it was one that really intrigued me. Admittedly it was mostly due to the beautiful cover design. The eerie, yet colorful image grabbed me and stayed plastered to my subconscious for a very long time.

It is not the best novel about the Holocaust and WWII, that I have read , but it was a gripping fictional memoir, based on a true story. As a memoir it was very well done. The author has a good narrative style. Nothing in the book is new, but what made i
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Courtney
"Christine, I want you to understand something. War makes perpetrators of some, criminals of others, and victims of everyone. Not all of the soldiers on the front are fighting for Hitler and his ideals. Just because a soldier is in the battle, doesn't mean that he believes in the war."

The Plum Tree is a story of a young girl (Christine) and her family during WWII and the Nazi occupation of Germany. Beyond that, it is a tale of love and survival, of loss and strength, and a tale of hope. It is
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Laura
Jan 20, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
I had a hard time sticking with Ellen Marie Wiseman's tale of a WW II romance between a Jewish Boy and an German girl in the beginning. There was almost too much description of place - meeting every flower and chicken in the town, so to speak, and Wiseman kept flinging German phrases into the story then immediately translating them in an annoying way. The central character, Christine, is part of a German family that was almost too morally disengaged from National Socialism to be realistic - very ...more
B the BookAddict
Jul 23, 2015 B the BookAddict rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR
Shelves: fiction

While the blurb say masterfully written, that is not my overall assessment. The Plum Tree is about life from the other side of the coin in WW2; the life of a German girl and her family. This is a point of view I have not really considered until now.

Christine is 17 in 1938 and in love for the first time with Isaac, who has Jewish grandparents. She is heartbroken when Hitler passes one of his many decrees and Isaac and his family are ferried in the dead of night to places unknown. Christine and h
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Angela M
Mar 12, 2015 Angela M rated it really liked it


This is a story of the war , of the grave injustices , the horrors of the concentration camps. It is a story of unmitigated hate , but it is also a love story , a story of death and survival. It's a story that reminds us of the holocaust but also reminds us of the resilience of some of the survivors and that not all Germans were Nazis . We've seen real examples of how Jews were helped by notable people such as Oskar Schindler but this novel reminds us that there were others , ordinary German cit
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Jen
Apr 22, 2014 Jen rated it it was ok
(Started off as a 4-star and gradually became a 2.5)Oh, I so, so wanted to like this - I'd heard so much about it and recognized the home village (really, a town) in the first chapter as the very one in which I spent a lovely, meaningful summer. The story had such promise, but too often, I wanted to throw the book across the room. Reasons therefore:

1) The heavy-fisted Defense of the Good German. I'm actually quite sympathetic, but sometimes this felt like a defense in the guise of a novel. Our h
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Lisa Orr
Sep 26, 2012 Lisa Orr rated it it was amazing
Ellen Marie Wiseman has a striking ability to describe in telling details, using all the senses. She doesn't just show us German villages burning after Allied bombings, she tells us the taste of the smoke and ashes. The Plum Tree is also very strong on describing emotions, which is vital in a book on the emotional trauma of war. There was a lot of history here that I didn't know, and I doubt many other American readers would be familiar with. We have indeed been taught the history of the victor, ...more
Jen
Mar 07, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars-or-more
I did enjoy this novel although it is a haunting account of the holocaust. It's a story told from the German perspective of an 18 year old girl who finds love with a Jew just before the war starts. It's haunting as she loses her love only to find him later and hides him in the family attic to save him. He is caught however, and both are sent to the concentration camp. I find all reads that take place during Hitler's regime to be disturbing but like many survivors, it's a story about survival, fa ...more
Elyse
Dec 26, 2013 Elyse rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read by Ellen Marie Wiseman. I'll read this author 'again'. Its clear Ellen Marie Wiseman has excellent STORYTELLING 'talent. Her writing 'flows'!

Its an Historical novel, (historically accurate), about the Holocaust (a topic I know much about --from family members -friends -being Jewish -other books on the Holocaust --ongoing education with the intention to "remember").

It 'might' seem (at first anyway) ---that what makes this book unique is that the narrator is a yo
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cameron
Apr 24, 2016 cameron rated it it was ok
Yes, I broke my rule and read this "historical fiction" about a "normal and good" German family during WW2.

All I can say is it reminds me of a trip I took through German cities in 2002. I took many tours and was shocked to listen, over and over again, to German Guides telling an American audience with Naval Academy alumni present about how wretchedly the Allies had destroyed civilians and cities with bombing. Several of us continued to walk out when this happened.

So I read this "story" where his
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Erica
Apr 27, 2015 Erica rated it did not like it
Once in a while, I fall prey to Amazon recommendations. It's usually when I'm impatient and stressed and I'm looking for the literary equivalent of an After School Special, something that hits the right empathic buttons without much mental strain. The last time I did this I ended up with Orphan Train, which was bad but mostly hit those marks. This book was so painful that I quit reading about ten pages from the end, after forcing myself to keep going long past when I should have abandoned it.

Th
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Jo Butler
Oct 13, 2012 Jo Butler rated it really liked it
Germany is not aware that it is trembling on the edge of madness when Adolf Hitler takes control in 1938. The country has been crushed by poverty for two decades, but the Nazis promise to end poverty and starvation, and to restore national pride. These welcome changes have not yet appeared, but ominous tales are spreading out from the cities and Jewish families are fleeing the country. Signs banning Jews from citizenship in the new Third Reich have just appeared in the small village of Hessental ...more
Tania
Dec 13, 2014 Tania rated it liked it
"It's not their fault,"Christine said to Hanna. "What could they have done to stop it? Any of them? What could they have done without getting themselves killed?"
3.5 stars. A very difficult book to rate. I struggled with the first part of the story, as the relationship between the two main characters felt a bit like instalove - we only see them together three times but have to believe in Christine and Isaac's undying love. The main part of the book was phenomenal - shocking, heartbreaking with a
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Julie Kibler
Dec 02, 2012 Julie Kibler rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved THE PLUM TREE, which I read as an ARC. It's a story of nearly impossible love in an unjust situation, but leaves you feeling both bittersweet and hopeful. Wiseman knows her setting like the back of her hand, and it shows, and the historical details are so well-researched--many I didn't know. How the average German citizen managed during the war is rarely visited in fiction, and Wiseman's family history and personal research really enrich the story. Readers of THE BOOK THIEF an ...more
Beth
Jul 05, 2014 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-on-kindle
I loved this book although I cried my eyes out in a few places - I really liked the way the author combined true stories from her family and from history and then wrote a book of fiction with a wonderful love story, horrific events, loss, sorrow, true love, enduring hope and the will to survive.

The main character Christine is modeled after the author's Mother; a young girl growing up in Germany during WW2. Her father gets drafted and has to go to the Russian front, Christine and her family can b
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Zora
Apr 22, 2013 Zora rated it it was ok
I wish I could say I liked this more, as the idea of telling a tale of a rural German family in WWII, equally as terrified of Nazis as of allied bombs, sounds an interesting one. The first problem I had with it was the voice of the narrator, which seemed terribly young, mentally 12 years old, though engaged in an unlikely clandestine love affair we're supposed to care about, although we don't get to see it develop or have any reason to think there's much more than mild lust going on. A pebble do ...more
Nickie
Jun 02, 2013 Nickie rated it it was ok
I spent an awful lot of time thinking "can we just get on with it?" The ending was forced and predictable.
kari
Jan 22, 2015 kari rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
So, I had lots of trouble getting into this one. It. Just. Drags.
Around page 100 I decided to give up, but then that is very difficult for me and I was j u s t b a r e l y interested enough to give it a few more chapters.
I can't say that it picked up at that point. It really doesn't much get going until maybe 200 pages in, but I am stubborn.
The problems are, sadly, many. There is almost no showing and all telling. That doesn't work. The beginning almost feels like "here are Isaac and Christine
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Myrna
May 07, 2016 Myrna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Not sure if it was the book or narrator but I didn't enjoy the 1st half as much as the 2nd. The 2nd half was unputdownable. Interesting note: the author's German mother and grandparents inspired some events in this novel. Recommended to history and historical fiction fans.
Susan
Dec 21, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
Germany, WW2. Such a sad, tragic and horrific story of how the Jews were treated. How the German citizens were treated badly not knowing what the Nazi party was actually doing.
This book took place during the beginning through the end of WW2. The story of a German family and their life and the love a girl for a Jewish boy and his love for her.
A great read, especially to hear the Germans plight.
TamElaine
This is only my second novel of 2015 and yet I already know it will be in my top 10 this year. It will be a book I think about for a very long time.

The first 15% or so of the book grabbed my attention immediately and drew so much emotion out of me. There was a short time period after that where the author seemed to switch from showing us the story to telling it, and yet there was some passage of time, so perhaps it was necessary, but it was enough that had me thinking perhaps this potentially 5
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Amy
Dec 24, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
The Plum Tree captured my heart and I carried it around until I was finished reading, stealing moments whenever I could just to get in another page or two or ten.

Not only was the WWII, the German landscape, the family characterizations, and the historical essence incredibly vivid -- but it was well-balanced. I didn't feel too overwhelmed by the sadness or by the love story. I thought Wiseman's writing was eloquent, literary and yet completely accessible to everyone.

I believe that The Plum Tree
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Laura
May 24, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunque tiene un ritmo pausado, ha sido una lectura interesante, entretenida, desgarradora y a la vez muy optimista. Me encanta todo lo que tenga que ver con el holocausto, y este libro es un fiel retrato de lo que pasaron los alemanes que no fueron nazis. Muy recomendable..
Katy
I received this as an e-ARC.

On the balance, I found my enjoying this book more than I didn't. The author has serious talent, and her ability to place the reader in the time and place she's writing about is astounding. You can almost smell the smoke, see the desolation, hear the cries and weeping. The Plum Tree has some of the best atmospheric and scenic writing I've ever read.

The characters, too, are engaging. I might be slightly biased - the experiences of the central family seem close (view s
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Barbara Kinsky
Aug 05, 2014 Barbara Kinsky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii-holocaust
This book deserves the 5 stars I have given it due it being such a well written story with no typo's!!!! Due to me loving WWII and Holocaust stories so much I decided to read this one although I thought it would just be one of the others I have read. I was pleasantly surprises. The plot is very different to the others I have read, and I simply loved the little twist at the end! I cannot believe it took 72 times of the author trying before somebody would become her agent. Brilliant read!!
Stephanie
The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman is without a doubt one of the best books I have read this year! Her prose is beautiful and inspiring, the characters story is heart-stiring and will capture emotions so deep in you that you will be forever changed. I highly recommend this story to all!
Stephanie Anze
Apr 12, 2016 Stephanie Anze rated it really liked it
Christine is a 17-year-old German girl that (along with her mother) works as a domestic in the Bauerman household, a prominent Jewish family. Having developed feelings for Isaac, the son of her employers, she is elated upon learning that Isaac feels the same way about her. On what should have been the happiest day of her life Christine learns that she can no longer go back to her job. Moreover, she can have absolutely no contact with Isaac as Hitlers regime establishes anti-Jewish laws. Christin ...more
Ivy Minich
Dec 24, 2014 Ivy Minich rated it it was ok
I truly hate to give such a low review. I chose to read this book because it was rated so well, but I surprisingly grew more and more disappointed with the book the more of it that I read.

I gave it a generous 2 stars because I felt the author at least had some writing talent. But overall, ugh. sorry! :/ it was as though she did have talent, but nothing really to say. stereotypical, cliche....

The character development was extremely thin. I realized toward the end of the book that I couldn't "pic
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Barbara
Feb 24, 2016 Barbara rated it it was ok
I can't be fair to this book. My review is so effected by listening to the audiobook. The narrator turned it into young adult fiction. The voices of the other characters were almost "cartoonish" (can I say that about narration?). The American soldiers all screamed and the Bolz family all spoke so kindly. So if you are interested in World War II from a German point of view, I highly suggest you just read the book. I finally had to get the book from the library.
The story concerns the Bolz family l
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Play Book Tag: The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman - 3 Stars 5 16 Apr 05, 2016 10:00AM  
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Ellen Marie Wiseman's debut novel, THE PLUM TREE, was released by Kensington Publishing on December 25th, 2012 and received much praise for its depiction of WWII. Her second novel, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, released in 2013 and was named a Huffington Post Best Books of Summer. Her third novel, COAL RIVER is set to release in November 2015. A mother of two, Ellen lives peacefully on the shores of Lake ...more
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“I want you to understand something. War makes perpetrators of some, criminals of others, and victims of everyone. Just because a soldier is in the battle, doesn't mean that he believes in the war.” 16 likes
“When we're together," he whispered, "we'll only see each other, not the ugliness around us.” 8 likes
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