Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Orphan's Tale” as Want to Read:
The Orphan's Tale
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Orphan's Tale

by
4.01  ·  Rating details ·  36,597 Ratings  ·  3,946 Reviews
A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan's Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in o
...more
Paperback, 353 pages
Published February 21st 2017 by Mira Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Orphan's Tale, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Dana Crano O.M.G. I'm only on page 92 and it's heart wrenching and I can't tear my eyes away.
Jill It is fiction, loosely based on factual accounts of different people, combined to make this fictional, very well written book.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Angela M
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it

There are notable as well as unsung heroes who protected some Jews from the Holocaust. We know about Oskar Schindler and I most recently learned about Irena Sendler. This is an admirable attempt to capture a story that I knew nothing about - the German circus and how some Jews were hidden as circus performers. I found it interesting because I didn't know about it and uplifting to know there were good people willing to take risks to save their fellow man.

Noa, a 16 year old Dutch girl, makes a mi
...more
Lindsay - Traveling Sister
I’m somewhere between 3.5 – 4 stars on this book.

I enjoyed this WWII story told through the unique perspective of the traveling circus. I read a lot of Holocaust novels and it always amazes me when I discover a completely different wartime perspective where brave men and women risked their lives to do the ‘right thing’ by hiding Jews knowing it would end with prison, torture or death for themselves if they were caught. It always makes me question myself – would I have been that brave during that
...more
Cheri
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
!! NOW AVAILABLE !!

At the age of 16, Noa is forced to leave the home of her parents, her family, when they notice her belly swelling with child. Unmarried, impregnated by a German soldier, she struggles to find a way to survive. She finds a cleaning job at a train station, which will become a path that changes everything for her.

In her haste to leave this town, which has suddenly become unsafe for her, she runs away into the darkness one night. As she continues to trudge on through the snow, t
...more
Norma * Traveling Sister
THE ORPHAN’S TALE by PAM JENOFF is an emotional, heartwarming, and heartbreaking Historical Fiction novel bringing together a tale about a traveling circus in Europe during World War II and of the friendship and sorrow of two women aerialist performers from the circus.

I found the circus theme to be quite enlightening, fascinating, and interesting as I haven't read too many books about traveling circuses during this time period. We also learn through The Author’s Note that this story was inspire
...more
RoseMary Achey
Feb 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Mel·o·dra·ma
DEFINITION: a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions

This book felt like it was written by a novice writer, not a seasoned respected author. It was filled with unnecessary melodrama, incredibly simplistic dialogue and scenarios that were simply not believable. The setting was WWII and a traveling circus attempting to shelter several Jewish individuals. Do we really need extra drama?

Don't believe the hype, this nove
...more
Suzanne Leopold
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Noa is a sixteen year old Dutch girl who cleans a German rail station in exchange for food and shelter. She is alone and destitute after being after being disowned by her family. Noa became pregnant by a Nazi soldier during the occupation. She was forced to give up the child for adoption and her parents could not forgive her transgressions. One evening she hears noises coming from a railway car in the station. She finds it filled with Jewish infants, some dead and some clinging to life. Still gr ...more
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
Naturally this is another book where apparently my rating/opinion doesn't line up with the popular one.

The plot sounds addictive, and it even involved a circus - hard to go wrong with that. As morbid as the subject is, I enjoy reading historical stories focusing on World War II and the horrible time in human history we must never forget and keep (hopefully) learning from. Told through two main points of view, the ambitious story focuses on one woman who lost a child and reclaimed a new one when
...more
Brenda
Cleaning the tiny German railway station for food and a bed was all sixteen year old Noa was able to do – her Dutch father had disowned her after she told her parents she was pregnant. Then her child was taken; her grief she kept well hidden – it didn’t pay to make the Germans notice, she knew that. But the decision she made on the night she heard noises from the rear car of a nearby train was to change her life forever.

Snatching the baby from the train was a spur-of-the-moment decision; but Noa
...more
Susanne Strong
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
3.5 Stars.

The Orphan’s Tale is A Story of Two Women in Nazi Germany. One woman is a Jew, who was married to a German SS Officer who divorced her and cast her aside. Her name was Ingrid and prior to her marriage she was an Aerialist in the Circus, thus after being shunned by her husband she goes back to the only life she has ever known, and she takes on the name Astrid, hoping the Nazi’s won’t capture her, or worse. The other woman is a young sixteen year-old, named Noa who after sleeping with a
...more
Maria Espadinha
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mais Dois Coelhos que Saltam da Cartola do Holocausto


Noa, Noa, que fizeste tu?!...
Enrolaste-te com um Nazi e olha no que deu:
Foste rejeitada pelos teus e nem a criança irás criar!...
Mas, enfim!... Errare humanum est, e o destino lá te compensou -- perdeste um, mas deste logo com outro:
Um bebé judeu que surripiaste duma carruagem pejada deles -- estavam todos amontoados, espraiados num chão coberto de fezes e vomitado -- uns mortos e outros quase... e tu não resististe -- num ímpeto impensado, ar
...more
Mary Kubica
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and beautiful. Jenoff's best book yet!
Jennifer
★★★★
It's Oscars weekend, and although it may seem like a superficial way to spend one's time, the awards show has spent the past 89 years recognizing the importance of entertaining the masses through the good times and the bad. This annual event has been held in spite of World War II, The Great Depression, and September 11, 2001 … or maybe the show marched on because of these tragedies. Entertainment provides escape and a needed morale boost during dark times. When you look back at entertainment
...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
I received this beautifully written ARC as an unexpected surprise, and what a wonderful surprise it was! Bravery, sacrifice, and a traveling circus, this story of friendship and family during the most difficult of times is highly recommended for fans of WWII fiction. Wow, just wow!
Kathryn
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff was a very moving read. Yes a little reminiscent of that powerful book The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, however very different in its own right.

The two women - Astrid a Jewish woman hiding and sheltered in a circus and Noa a younger woman who was cast out from her home in the Netherlands when she became pregnant. When Noa stumbles into the care of the circus the two women forge a special relationship. They were both very strong each in their own way and I really
...more
Paul Falk
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Pam Jenoff, I found myself clutched into the arms of Germany during World War II. Not the safest place to be. Flying by the seat of my pants, I landed on a train. Not just any train. A circus train. From there, the author took me on a well-laid-out tour of the Big Top. Circus life. Love. War. It was a moving narrative guaranteed with an ending not to leave your eyes dry.

In Germany, the Reich refused to recognize mixed marriages - Jews and Germans. Astrid, a former circus performer, fou
...more
Ammara Abid
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the war-scenario brilliantly crafted story on the friendship of Noa & Astrid. And their love for the child Theo. Sacrificing selflessly for one another is the true friendship & that's what they truly depict.
My eyes are filled with tears :'( & my heart with pain. This book is incredibly awesome, painstakingly beautiful & what a brilliant write up. Fast paced, moving, I didn't get bore even a second. My first book related to circus but I feel it, live it, enjoy it fully as an a
...more
Katie B
3.5 stars

The story for this World War 2 historical fiction book was unique and was definitely interesting enough for me to keep turning the pages. However, the writing itself was average and other than towards the end, I just didn't feel much for the characters. So I had this weird reading experience of liking the book but also having this cold, empty feeling inside.

Sixteen-year-old Noa is thrown out of her family home after becoming pregnant with a Nazi soldier's baby. After being forced to gi
...more
Donna
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I can see this book getting great reviews because it really is a sweet story, so for that I will give this an extra star, but overall, this didn’t work for me. I love historical fiction and I love WWII historical fiction, so I was looking forward to this book.

I think I craved more detail and not the kind that describes the color of things. I wanted emotion, dilemma, conflict. While this book had some of that, I wanted more. The author did paint a picture, but I just wasn’t feeling it. The chara
...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Noa was thrown out of her parents' home because she had become pregnant to a German soldier but needed to leave after the Germans took her baby. As Noa made her way out of town, she came upon a train of Jewish infants left to die (talk about heartbreaking.)

Noa took one of the babies, couldn't continue because they both were almost frozen, and then collapsed near the circus. The circus members rescued Noa and the baby, but Noa had to perform on the flying trapeze with Astrid to earn her keep.

Eve
...more
Ashley
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Over the past couple of years I have developed a fondness for historical fiction. I was never a fan of history in school because it seemed to be mostly the memorization of names and dates. I thought it was boring. Historical fiction has allowed me to learn about past events in a fun, exciting, and interesting way. I wish my history teachers had incorporated books into their lesson plans.

The Orphan's Tale is a story set in 1940s Germany and France during World War II. Ever since reading The Night
...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com
In 2009 I was first introduced to the work of talented historical fiction novelist Pam Jenoff, who specialises in bringing readers compelling stories from the war years. I was so moved by Jenoff’s World War II based novel The Kommandant’s Girl that ever since her books have been on the auto buy list. This was also the case with Jenoff’s latest novel, another World War II set novel. I think The Orphan’s Tale is Jenoff’s most powerful work to date.

The Orphan’s
...more
Maria Espadinha
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two More Rabits in the Holocaust Hat


Here is another book about WWII -- another great job unravelling a bit more of the Holocaust terror and atrocities

It brings together two real events I knew nothing about:

A catle train crowded with anonimous jewish children who have been snatched from their parents, and a traveling circus that harbored Jews

It's about fear, love, courage, miracles and secrets -- people like us living a life pushed by circunstances; a life they didn't chose but had to be grateful
...more
Melissa
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of the circus. I was not disappointed to hear about Barnum and Bailey ending their 146 year run. However, I’m always interested in reading novels about circuses. I think that started with Water for Elephants and later The Night Circus. So I was glad to hear that Pam Jenoff’s latest novel is also about a circus. Thankfully, the focus is on trapeze acts instead of what happens to animals. However, it also is about a very dark period in history.

The Orpha
...more
Kindling Micky
This was a heart-stopping and painful read but there are no regrets in reading it. THE ORPHAN'S TALE broke my heart at the beginning and it didn't stop there. The premise for this story had me searching for the history behind the start of the book; a boxcar of babies on their way to be transported to a concentration camp and a young infant saved. This was based in reality and I can say this book was very well researched and the story throughout felt so tangible.

The two main characters in this bo
...more
Jennifer Blankfein
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a story of two lost souls attempting to survive the War. At sixteen, Noa has already lived a lifetime. She got pregnant by a Nazi soldier, got kicked out of her home, had a baby that was taken from her and was trying to make a living by working in the train station. After coming across a boxcar piled high with Jewish babies she is compelled to rescue one and run away. She calls him Theo and now must find a way to protect him from the Germans. She seeks refuge in the traveling circus wher ...more
Erin
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 *wiping away tears * stars.

The show is the thing. As long as we can keep performing, everything will be fine.

Germany 1940's: Noa, a young Dutch teen has been cast from her home after falling pregnant by a Nazi soldier. Hoping that her child can be adopted by a nice Arayan family, Noa enters a home for unwed mothers and eventually gives birth. Soon she is cast from there as well and takes refuge at a train station where one night, Noa stumbles upon a railcar filled with Jewish babies headin
...more
Britany
WWII Historical fiction AND the circus?!!?!?!

That statement alone should've sealed this book as a quick favorite- so many preconceived check boxes marked off my list of qualities. Needless to say, this one didn't quite hit the mark for me.

Noa- a 16 year old gets kicked out of her house for getting pregnant is living in the train station as a cleaner, and stumbles across the most horrific scene in a novel I have ever come across. She suddenly finds herself on the run again and ends up joining th
...more
Sue
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
I just finished this book and I am still crying. I am crying over the lives lost during this horrific time in history but I am also crying because this book was so wonderful and so beautifully written.

Noa was kicked out of her house at 16 when she became pregnant by a German soldier and she found a job cleaning a railway station. She hears a strange sound and finds a railway car full of babies, some dead and some alive, and she is so upset that she grabs a baby and runs way into the cold and sno
...more
Sheri
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this World War II novel with a different setting. I knew nothing of the German traveling circus, nor the fact that it hid Jews amongst its performers during the war. I thought the book did an especially good job of showing how the war impacted not just Jews, but those associated with Jews, and to a lesser extent, all German citizens. A beautiful story of family, friendship, and trust. This is my first novel by this author, but it won't be my last.
☮Karen
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I guess I didn't realize just how much of this story takes place in the circus (in Nazi Germany and France). I think I expected more about the orphans, taking the title too literally perhaps. I loved that other circus book, Water for Elephants, but mainly because it had that wonderful elephant, Rosie. This book has a lot of circus going on, and I thought it would have been more interesting with more about those orphan babies. Don't get me wrong. It was still a lovely story of relationships, espe ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Girlfriends Book ...: Oct. 2018 read 5 1 Oct 13, 2018 10:46AM  
Play Book Tag: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff 3 stars 2 11 Aug 23, 2018 12:50PM  
The Orphans Tale: Baylee Rigtrup 4 20 Jan 06, 2018 09:01AM  
AP Language SHS: The Orphan's Tale 5 6 Jan 05, 2018 05:26PM  
AP Language SHS: Abigail Smith 4 5 Jan 04, 2018 11:10AM  
Play Book Tag: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff -- 5 stars + ♥ 16 25 Dec 21, 2017 11:07PM  
1,397 followers
Pam is the author of several novels, including her most recent The Orphan's Tale, an instant New York Times bestseller. Pam was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary o ...more
“Why are we so hard on one another? I wonder. Hadn’t the world already given us challenges enough?” 11 likes
“We cannot change who we are. Sooner or later we will all have to face ourselves.” 9 likes
More quotes…