This book is based on an award winning play and while definitely geared towards those of high school age (lower grades I would think), it also appealeThis book is based on an award winning play and while definitely geared towards those of high school age (lower grades I would think), it also appealed to me as an adult reader. The premise is that a teen-age blogger who is not too interested in school-work ends up with her class at a museum featuring an exhibit on Anne Frank. After some explosions and the ensuing chaos, the main character Nicole wakes up with a severe headache and finds herself in World War 2 Paris France and Jewish. She learns quickly what it is like to be one of an oppressed people targeted for death. She still struggles with some of the same teen issues that she faced in her modern day life but learns more about family and what is truly important as the months go by. There is a little twist, but you will have to read the book to find out what it is.
I have a real fascination for stories of the Second World War, fueled in part by the fact that my father and several uncles served and indeed my FatheI have a real fascination for stories of the Second World War, fueled in part by the fact that my father and several uncles served and indeed my Father spent quite some time in the Netherlands where this story is set. In spite of that, I was not very familiar with the time span the author chose to write about in this novel. I had never even heard the term "May War" so it was very much of interest to me. Although this was a novel, sprinkled throughout the book were links to notes that the author had put in where he outlined the "facts" of the story. I chose not to read these until I had finished the book and found them most informative not only historically but also in understanding how Jamie Campbell approached telling the story. There are really three main characters in this story - Ruth, a 12 year old Jewish girl who is en route to England and safety. Piet, a young officer cadet of the Dutch Navy currently away from his ship and doing his best to get Ruth safely on her way and Heleen, another young woman who becomes involved in caring for Ruth and interacting with Piet throughout the days of this short May "War".
Campbell has a writing style that is quite different from many authors that I have read. I was interested enough to go and look at his blogs and see what else he might have written. I seem to remember (though I can't find the reference now) that he described his writing style as having to do with flow of thought of the characters. Initially when I began reading the story I wasn't sure what to make of it and wanted more character depth, but this story describes a very short period of time - a five day war, and as such, things have to move quickly. The writing style grew on me to the point where at times I felt almost as if I was inside the head (particularly of Piet) as he was in action where he barely had time to think and simply had to react. Ruth on the other hand was more an observer, skilled in hiding out and watching as things happened, much older than her physical age would indicate.
I didn't sit and read this story all in one go, but I did enjoy it and appreciated the historical research and detail that went into it. I would be interested in learning more about this time period and think the book would be of interest to others who want to better understand what it was like to be in the Netherlands as war arrived on her doorstep....more
On looking at the title and cover one might think this book is a work of fiction, but in actual fact it is a memoir that was originally independentlyOn looking at the title and cover one might think this book is a work of fiction, but in actual fact it is a memoir that was originally independently published in 1984 and quickly went out of print and was forgotten. It was written by Trudi Kanter and published six years before her death. A young woman involved in the publishing industry had bought a copy in 1989 and carried it around with her for years until she reached a position where she was able to bring it out and suggest it be republished. As far as the publishers could tell, Trudi had no family with any copywright claim and as of when this edition was published, no one had stepped forward to lay any claim.
Trudi was a milliner who owned her own business in Vienna at the time Hitler came into power. Although his name features in the title, he really only comes into the story as a result of the rules he made and the soldiers from Germany who were part of the group who moved into Vienna after the Anschluss. Trudi was apparently an attractive women who never wanted for admirers. She had been married once and as she begins her memoir she was still in process of getting a divorce. She met Walter Erlich and quickly fell in love with him (while maintaining a decent relationship with her ex).
Trudi's father was Jewish although her mother was not and Trudi was smart enough to realize early on that the future was not looking good for those of the Jewish ethnicity. Her new love Walter was also Jewish. Trudi was a woman who could see a problem and act quickly. Walter was a man who liked to take his time and look at a situation from all angles before slowly deciding what to do. Her memoir tells the story of how she and Walter were able to leave Austria after it had been annexed by the Germans, and make their way to England. Eventually they were also able to help bring Trudi's parents to England but in spite of warnings to get out, none of Walter's extended family survived the war.
Life did not suddenly become easy upon their arrival in England. As I read it I couldn't help but think of the refugees who make their way to Canada and the US now from other war-torn countries. people resented their presence and felt they were taking jobs from others who might need them. Adapting to a new currency and trying to understand and learn a new language (often heavily accented) wasn't easy and when the air raids began life was even harder. Walter and Trudi's father were interned as possible threats and the initial conditions they were kept in were deplorable.
How they were released and how they came to really make their home in Britain throughout the war is of great social interest. The reader does not hear all the horrible details of what is happening in Europe or all the hardships they face, but enough is told to give the broad strokes to a picture of what life was like for the new refugees.
I am not sure exactly what audience Trudi hoped would read her book. Certainly there is enough of the fashion and relationship details to make this a book which might appeal to women. I struggled a little with her writing style in the early chapters because it was almost as if she was telling her story as it was happening. I got past that and this is a story that will be staying on my bookshelves....more
I was asked by the publisher to read this book and provide an honest review. I am truly thankful for that as it was a pleasure to read. Writ4.5 stars
I was asked by the publisher to read this book and provide an honest review. I am truly thankful for that as it was a pleasure to read. Written during World War Two within months of when the events described took place, it has a real immediacy to it and gave me an excellent understanding of what it was like to be a "tail gunner" right down to the clothes he wore to keep warm under freezing conditions to the fear he felt before certain bombing sorties. It amazes me how these young men could go out so many times knowing that there was a very good chance that they would never return. Squadron Leader Richard Ravaz DFC had several very close calls during the time he was writing - twice being forced to bail out into the sea - once without anyone knowing where they were and just hoping they would be found.
While the early part of the book had some grammatical or writing issues, the writing either improved or I just didn't notice as I was so engrossed in what was happening. The book was originally published in 1943 which seems amazing under the circumstances and with the need for wartime secrecy. It basically covers one year in time and doesn't take the reader to the end of the war. It left me wanting to know more about Rivaz - especially whether he survived (as this was his only book.) Apparently he did survive, but only until October 1945 which is incredibly sad.
In the book I learned that these men were very particular about who they flew with and had strong loyalties. Rivaz apparently flew with Leonard Cheshire, one of the most famous pilots of the Second World War. He was also trained as a painter at the Royal College of Art and perhaps this is why his descriptions of scenes and skies are so vivid to the reader.
I think this book would be of interest to anyone eager to learn more about the war in the air but it is also clear enough that it would probably be of interest to Young Adult readers too....more
I have read many books about the Holocaust and usually enjoy (if one can use that word) learning more about what happened and the stories of the indivI have read many books about the Holocaust and usually enjoy (if one can use that word) learning more about what happened and the stories of the individuals. This book seemed to be geared towards the very young and so perhaps it is unfair for me to rate it as I am sure Elly's experiences were all awful and it is a miracle that she survived. Sadly, the writing and duplication in this just made the reading quite tedious Kudo's for sharing her story but I wish she had found a really good editor to help her tighten it all up....more
This book tells the story of Lisa Becker, a young German non-practicing Jewish girl age 13 transported to England to avoid the reach of the N4.5 stars
This book tells the story of Lisa Becker, a young German non-practicing Jewish girl age 13 transported to England to avoid the reach of the Nazi's and their "final solution". From the early pages of the story my interest was fully captured and I didn't want to stop reading. On arrival in England, Lisa is placed with a couple who speak no German and really can't communicate with her. How she learns to speak English and develops a close relationship with them makes for an excellent story. She faces bullying in school from students who only see her as being "German" rather than understanding what prejudice and risk she faced in her homeland. A young boy from her hometown who came over on the same train saves her from the bullying that she is forced to deal with and they develop a close though secretive relationship.
The author really made me feel as if I knew what it was like to live in London during the Blitz. I could picture it in my mind. The book follows Lisa as she is injured in an air raid, loses her memory and ultimately is transported out of London for her safety's sake. Without giving away all the details, we follow her story as she becomes Charlotte and grows and matures throughout the war years. There are many twists and turns to her story and as would be expected in wartime,many difficult and sad moments. I believe this book would be of great interest to the young adult reader interested in learning more about what it was like to live in England during the war. Having said that, it was also of great interest to me as an over 60 reader. I will definitely be reading more books by this author....more
I found this book riveting. It is a novel that tells a what if story about rescuing Jewish people from a train en route to hell. Mouse Weiss, a "poppeI found this book riveting. It is a novel that tells a what if story about rescuing Jewish people from a train en route to hell. Mouse Weiss, a "popper" from the US (who also happens to be Jewish), is sent out of country by his gangster boss (who also happens to be Jewish) to avoid being arrested for murder. He is sent to Europe with lots of his bosses money, to help finance a rescue attempt being organized by some Dutch people and a German who is out to kill as many Nazis as he can.
I don't want to spoil the story by explaining it all in a review. Suffice it to say the research into the time period appears to be extensive and at times while reading I felt as if I was there watching it all happen. Mouse, the main character is on a voyage of self-discovery throughout. Is he truly a gangster or someone else?
When the book was done I wanted more. I wanted to know what happened next. I believe this was the author's first novel and I'd definitely recommend it to others....more
This is the third novel I have read by Diney Costeloe that is set in a time of war. Originally published under the title The Ashgrove, this book is seThis is the third novel I have read by Diney Costeloe that is set in a time of war. Originally published under the title The Ashgrove, this book is set partly in the present day and partly during the Great War. Rachel Elliot, a local reporter is seeking to understand the background history of a grove of Ash trees that were planted as a living memorial to eight soldiers from the local community who gave their lives during the Great War. A ninth tree was secretly planted in memory of "the unknown soldier". A construction company is interested in getting rid of the trees to allow construction of a new project, Some community members are adamantly opposed while others stand to benefit financially if the project goes ahead. In researching the memorial, Rachel learns that she too has a connection to the memorial and sets out to save it and uncover the mystery of the ninth tree.
Many portions of the novel are set in the past and told through flashbacks or reference to letters and journal entries. These particularly fascinated me. At the beginning of the book was reference to a project which I won't name for fear of spoiling the story but it gave me a clue as to where the story might lead. In the time of the war, we learn of Sarah Hurst, a headstrong young woman who decides against all parental approval that she wants to head to France and nurse the soldiers. To make it more acceptable in her father's eyes, she inveigles her maid Molly O'Day into joining her. For reasons of her own, Molly is happy to be leaving the local community, and her skills as a maid prove very useful when taking care of the sick and wounded. The two girls head to the convent at St. Croix in France, where Sarah's aunt is a nun. They make themselves very useful as the wounded pour in and they develop a friendship which crosses the societal barriers of the times. Sarah was raised as a Catholic and feels right at home in the convent while Molly has a Protestant background and looks askance at some of the religious practices of the nuns.
Life begins to get more complicated when a relative of Molly's arrives as one of the wounded very close to death. In mutual grief with his best friend Tom, Molly falls in love. Love in wartime seldom runs smoothly and indeed a crisis arrives in their relationship which ends up keeping them apart. How and why will be discovered when one reads the book.
As a reader I felt I really grew to know and understand the characters. I was moved by their struggles and by the horror of war. Tom was a soldier involved in the beginning of the battle of the Somme and events that happened at Beaumont Hamel. I have visited that area and seen the trenches, heard about how many died so uselessly and it made this story all the more real to me.
The author has clearly done an incredible amount of research which has paid off in a realistic story of war and the long term consequences it can have on individuals. AS the story of the past met up with the present day efforts of Rachel Elliot, the reader learns all the answers to the mysteries of the Ash Grove. This book is a stand alone novel but is also a prequel to the author's subsequent book - The Sisters of St. Croix.