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The Plum Tree

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  2,901 ratings  ·  484 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...more
Paperback, 367 pages
Published December 25th 2012 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Debra Battista
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
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...more
Bette BookAddict
Apr 07, 2014 Bette BookAddict rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bette 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...more
Lisa Orr
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
Laura
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
Jen
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
Jo Butler
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
Zora
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
Beth
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...more
Jen
(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...more
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...more
Amy
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...more
Jessica Brockmole
What a beautiful, moving novel! Christine, a young German woman, falls in love with the handsome, educated son of the wealthy Jewish family she works for, just as the Second World War begins and their peaceful little village changes. Desperate to hold on to Isaac and the love that they share, Christine must face the enemy and her own fear to speak up. A fascinating, intricately researched novel of the German home front during and after the war, as the women left behind grapple with fear, depriva...more
Julie Kibler
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
Barbara Kinsky
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!
Nickie
I spent an awful lot of time thinking "can we just get on with it?" The ending was forced and predictable.
Angie
I am drawn to this time period; I've read many books about the Holocaust and how it changed the world. This book gave insight on what it was like to be a family trying to get by in Hitler-Germany -- the fear, the rations, the War, the separations, the uncertainty -- and it kept me gripped from the beginning. It is definitely NOT a feel-good story because the portrayal is very real and often hard to read for the sheer despair of it all, but it's a part of history we can't ignore.

The book opens w...more
Maureen
I was interested when I first saw this book because I have read quite a bit of WWII historical fiction in the last few years. My interest increased dramatically when I found that the author lives in the same county as I do and went to school with a friend and was going to speak early in March at our library, so I put it at the top of the list and picked it up at the library. The point of view is that of normal German citizens, Christians who regard their Jewish neighbors as just that, neighbors,...more
Barbara White
The Plum Tree opens in an idyllic German village in 1938. Seventeen-year-old Christine, a maid in the house of a wealthy Jewish family, is guarding a secret: She and the son of her employer are in love. They assume class is the greatest hurdle they will have to face…

I’ll be honest, I had mixed feelings about reading The Plum Tree. As the wife of a Jew and the mother of a teenager who would have been considered impure by the Nazis, I struggle with anything that circles the Holocaust. However, as...more
Aline Newman
First, a disclaimer: I'm much more drawn to non-fiction than fiction, so I'm probably hard to please. But I've met Ellen Marie Wiseman, who lives less than 100 miles from me, and I like her. I also grew up with close family friends who were German refugees. For these reasons, I felt compelled to read Ellen's new book. I both wanted to see what life was like on the German homefront during WWII and to compare Ellen's take on events (which was based on her own mother's experiences) to the stories I...more
Tanvi
This is not your typical WWII novel. I thought it would be- but it wans't.
Love story aside (I'm not a big fan of them, personally), it is an evocative account of Germany during WWII. The conflicts of regular people are explained perfectly, and this author avoids all the clichès as well. She doesn't just concentrate on how terrible the Holocaust was, she also points out the other side of the story- war crimes are only perpetrated by the losers, after all. Highlighting things like how the Russians...more
Kristina Brownell
This story is haunting and beautiful. I wish there had been a more hopeful undertone, but it is a WW11 era novel and there wasn't a lot to be hopeful about then. The ending felt abrupt and rushed, but at least it was a "good" ending. I read it very quickly...mostly because I can't stand this kind of sadness for long periods of time and it disrupted my sleep with awful dreams! I love reading about this time period simply because I do not ever want to forget. I need to have enough knowledge to pas...more
Violet
I am always a bit leery when picking up a fiction book about WW II in Germany. This book proved me right. The author seems to forget the rule of "Cause and Effect". Yes, the civilian population suffered greatly, but even when all the battles were lost, children and old men were sent into battle. Not just a few were waiting for Hitler`s "Wunderwaffe", which would turn things around. Lest we forget, the German nation brought this tragedy onto the world. There were not many people trying to stop th...more
Patti
Hard to put down! What a wonderful debut novel. Ellen prose draws the reader right in. I have shared the ARC with many friends who all agree The Plum Tree is sure to be an award winner. I am the Library Director of a NYS library and have already ordered multiple copies as I know my patrons will love this book!! I highly recommend it!
Cristina
El jardín de Dachau nos narra la historia de una joven alemana (Christine) y la de su familia durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y la ocupación nazi de Alemania. Más allá de eso, es una historia de amor y de supervivencia, de la pérdida y de la fuerza, una historia de esperanza. Es ficción histórica, tejida con una trama romántica entre la protagonista y un joven judío alemán durante esta época del terror nazi.

Seguramente todos hemos aprendido algo acerca de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, de los camp...more
Elyse
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...more
Judi/Judith Riddle
Ellen Marie Wiseman’s debut novel is fiction but authentically based on her German relative’s experiences during World War II. Told with a very readable writing style, it is a deeply moving story of devoted love in the mists of Nazi terror sweeping through their quiet village. It will pull at your sanity and heartstrings when you read of the barbarity of war that creeps in slowly and and then rises rapidly destroying not only the lives of the Jewish population but the quiet German families who w...more
Brittany Picardi Ruiz
Set in Germany during the second world war, The Plum Tree, is the story of a young, poor, Christian woman named Christine who falls in love with her wealthy employer’s son, a young, Jewish man named Isaac. As their secret love blooms, Hitler’s dark shadow begins to spread over the land by way of anti-semitic posters, propaganda, and oppressive laws, including the Nazi proclamation that Christians could no longer work for Jews.
Torn apart as their love is just beginning, Christine and Isaac believ...more
Suze
Until the middle of this book, I was enjoying it (as much as anyone can enjoy reading about Nazi's). The story takes place in a town I lived in for 2 years while my husband was in the Army -Hessental, Germany. I recalled many of the areas Christine described with fondness. It's a beautiful area, picture book town. The horror the town people suffered through must have been devastating. I don't think I would have had the courage to resist as some of them did.

However, midway through the book it alm...more
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Ellen Marie Wiseman's debut novel, The Plum Tree, was released by Kensington Publishing on December 25th, 2012. Set in Nazi Germany, The Plum Tree is an epic story of human resilience and enduring hope that follows a young German woman through WWII as she struggles to survive poverty and Allied bombs, finds the courage to outwit SS officers, and risks everything trying to save the love of her life...more
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What She Left Behind ISBN 9788415497332

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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.” 11 likes
“When we're together," he whispered, "we'll only see each other, not the ugliness around us.” 5 likes
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