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The Ventriloquists

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  67 reviews
In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world chan
Hardcover, 544 pages
Expected publication: August 27th 2019 by Park Row
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3.37  · 
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 ·  83 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The year was 1943. Gruppenfuhrer August Wolff headed the Ministry of Perception Management administered by the Gestapo. Wolff, Germany's book burning crusader, was primarily involved in Black Propaganda. "Propaganda is 'black' if it is supposedly from one side, but is actually from the other." The citizenry of the city of Brussels was dispirited. "When the Nazis invaded Belgium taking our printing presses, our radios, our books...they took our words and thoughts, too..." Le Soir, arguably Belgiu ...more
Sherry Chiger
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
About three-quarters of the way through this novel, set in World War II Belgium, one of the protagonists spends a fair amount of time moaning that "I probably won't see the Americans join the war." That would be fine... if the book didn't take place in 1943. I reread that section three times to be sure I hadn't misunderstood.

Even before then, though, the book was irritating me, primarily because of the clunky framing device and use of first-person narrative for most of the story. Gamin/Helene,
Karen Kay
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Really clunky, blocky writing and the characters didn't grab my attention.

Abandoned at 25%.
No Rating

Maine Colonial
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received a free publisher's advance review copy.

There are so many little-known stories about World War II that now, nearly 80 years after the war began, there are still tales to be told. Ramzipoor writes in her author’s note that she stumbled across the true story behind this novel as she was researching the role of underground publications in resistance movements.

A few copies of the “Faux Soir” of this story still exist, and some facts are known about the personalities involved. Ramzipoor too
Sherry Zaks
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is the perfect combination of gravitas, humor, and pure, compelling plot. The true story is amazing, and yet the author doesn't just ride the plot like so many historical fiction books do. Each sentence is beautiful. Each character is perfectly lovable, perfectly hatable---or sometimes both. This tale of every day resistance and remembering how to laugh again in the face of oppression is both timeless and (sadly) so very timely. I cannot recommend it enough.
Angela McVay
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
I just didn’t get this story and was slogging through 50 pages and decided to give it up. I really never heard of an underground newspaper during WW II and thought this would be an interesting read. It would have been helpful to have the characters developed early in the story. It felt as if the story just took off and left the reader way behind on some important missing details.

Thank you Netgalley and Park Row for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A powerful novel based on an fascinating true story set in WWII-era Belgium. The characters are richly developed and memorable. Among the many elements of this book that I enjoyed is that this book presents a different way to engage in everyday resistance to power. While bravery and hope are of course important, the Ventriloquists also demonstrates how humor can be a mighty force, against even the most powerful of enemies.
Ellie Midwood
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Ventriloquists” was a different type of historical fiction, which had an interesting Tarantino-esque quality to the narration. It tells a seemingly dramatic story, most of which is based on true events, but transforms it into something entirely different with timely placed sardonic remarks and sometimes comical situations. One would not expect comical from anything WW2-related but gallows humor does work in this case and brightens up what otherwise would have been a devastating story.
The charac
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A young woman named Eliza, knocks on the door of an old woman living in Engheim in Brussels. At first, the old lady won’t let her in, and then Eliza mentions a name. A name the old woman had only ever heard in another life.

Through Eliza and her notebook, Gamin is transported back to wartime Brussels, where he is an orphan at eight and a successful criminal, pickpocket and soldier for the Resistance at age twelve.

Gamin tells Eliza, bit by bit, of the most splendid farce ever committed against the
Maureen Mayer
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars!

“The only way to deal with the absurdity of evil is with equal and opposite absurdity.”

I was intrigued right off the bat after reading the synopsis for this book. Having read many historical fictions that take place during WWII, it was refreshing to read one that doesn’t solely focus on the Holocaust. In this case, the story highlights a group of rogue journalists and resistance fighters who risk their lives to not only undermine the Reich but bring power back to Belgians and give them
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ramzipoor tells the amazing true story of the The Front de l'Independance (FI) and their newspaper caper. The Nazi's take over many things when the occupy a county, including newspapers. Set in 1943 in occupied Belgium, the FI concocts a scheme to print a satirical faux newspaper. Fed up with the propaganda the Nazi's are spreading, the FI decides to fight fire with fire. They create and manage to distribute their faux paper in a mere 18 days. Its an amazing story. The most amazing aspect is tha ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There were some moments in E.R. Ramzipoor’s The Ventriloquists when I just had to roll my eyes. Some of the things the characters got up to that are so over the top, so ridiculous that my willingness to suspend disbelief straining. When I got to the Author’s Note at the end—and did a bit of supplemental reading on Wikipedia—those eye rolls turned into the biggest grin I think I’ve ever had at the end of a book. I think my grin would make the actual historical figures behind a forgotten Resistanc ...more
Seema Rao
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This World War II story was a disappointment. I hoped for a book with the magic of Hugo or at least a book with a uniform literary tone. This book felt erratic, with a few great moments, particularly in the dialogue between characters. The book was very challenging to finish, as the writing felt leaden. I wouldn't have finished it if I wasn't committed to writing this review.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Seema Rao Write : Instagram| Blog| Twitter|
Lee Husemann
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was very excited that this was a historical fiction WWII story but I had a very hard time trying to get into it. There were numerous characters and the story line was confusing at times. At the half-way point, I started skimming hoping that it would capture my interest but it did not. I was very disappointed in this book. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Full review to come!
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Free-speech absolutists are liars.

You know the type—the middle-class (or upper-class) white male type who thinks of himself as an academic or a philosopher, who drones on about censorship and quotes Areopagitica* whenever his reactionary viewpoint is threatened in the slightest. The kind who, when it comes to speech that he personally doesn't like, is more than happy to shout others down and shut them up.

The man described above will drone on and on about how he'll defend to the death your right
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the story of people working against the Third Reich during World War 2 to produce. work of propaganda. While the story is told from multiple characters' viewpoints and it could have been an engaging story, the writing sometimes let the idea down. It was an interesting story but character development was not as strong as it could have been. I was left feeling cold about most of the characters.. Good ideas, but the execution was only so-so.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating book. I am a huge fan of historical fiction--but even more so when it turns out that it is based on a true story. First, let me give a short summary.

The Ventriloquists has been described as "Ocean's 11 meets the Book Thief." The entire novel is framed by the story of a young girl named Eliza who is attempting to record the story of Helene, now an old woman, who lived in the streets disguised as a boy in Belgium during World War II. Helene tells much of the story from her o
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no ways changes my opinion and all the words below are my own. My review is based on an advanced copy of the book and may not fully reflect the finished copy.

The best describing word I can use for this book is “confusing". Not just because of the historical inaccuracies (hoping an editor for the final copy has heard of Pearl Harbour and fixes that little blip about America not being part of the war in ‘43??).

Right from the get go th
John Purvis
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
"The Ventriloquists" eBook was published in 2019 (August) and was written by E.R. Ramzipoor ( This is her first publication. 

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Language, and Mature Situations. The story is set in 1943 Brussels. Belgium has been occupied by the Germans since May 28 of 1940. The primary character is twelve
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
With the recent 75th anniversary of D-Day, it seems like the demand for novels set in World War II has reached new heights. So why read The Ventriloquists rather than one of the many other offerings? To put it simply, you should read it because this is a different story. It’s not set on the front lines, in the world of espionage, or in a concentration camp, nor does it heavily feature renowned or reviled historical figures. Instead, it covers the 18 days in October when a group of Belgian journa ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Based on true events, The Ventriloquist follows a band of misfits who set out to make fools of the Reicht during the German invasion of Belgium in 1943. Each brings to the table a particular skill, and without each of them, their plan would not succeed. They've been recruited by the German Grupperfuhrer Wolff to write an issue of Le Soir, a Belgian newspaper, in which they promote the German ideals in an effort for the Germans to gain credibility with the Belgian people, thus allowing their inva ...more
*Book received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

Aubrion’s unbridled creativity and linguistic genius attract the attention of August Wolff,
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found “The Ventriloquists” by E. R. Ramzipoor is based on true events that occurred during W.W.II in Belgium. Helene is a twelve-year-old street orphan, dressed as a boy, who is drawn into a secret network of journalists and resistance fighters by Marc Aubrion to deliver messages and collect items needed for their work. She sells a popular newspaper Le Soir which has been turned into Nazi propaganda. No one knows that she is, in fact, a girl.

Aubrion’s team is apprehended by the Nazis and given
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer not to use a certain word in any of my reviews, and the word is, “unfortunately”, but for this one, I’m going to have to use it. After reading the description of this book, I was so looking forward to reading this, but not so much once I got into it. I am a WWII History follower and I had not seen or read anything about this caper that is based upon true events.
Here it comes, the, “Unfortunately”, I got lost in this one. I think a lot of my confusion had to do with the complicated name
Is there anything more intriguing than learning about a little known but magnificent piece of history? In E.R. Ramzipoor’s epic debut novel based on a true story, The Ventriloquists (Park Row Books), courage and fortitude raise the middle finger to Hitler and the Third Reich.

Hitler had invaded Belgium three years prior. The Nazi regime had stolen the voice of the people—their words and thoughts. “The Nazis permitted artists to work their trade as long as their pens were dull, their canvases simp
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: vine, fiction, own
Le Soir is the most popular collaborationist newspaper in Nazi occupied Belgium. A rag-tag team of journalists and resistance fighters are “recruited” by a Nazi officer and propagandist to write a special edition to turn public opinion against the Allies. Given little choice but to cooperate (or die), they decide that in addition to the anti-Ally paper, they will covertly create an anti-German paper as well. The story itself is Helene’s recollections of her involvement in the scheme as a young o ...more
Given the wide range of ratings on The Ventriloquists, it appears it's one of those books that you either love or really don't like it.

I was so excited when NetGalley authorized me to read and review this book. I love historical fiction, and when it's based on true events, even better!! Sadly, this book was not a good match for me. It just didn't work for me in so many ways:
- the beginning was very confusing to me. So many characters introduced in a short time span, not making them come alive (y
Andria Potter
I really wanted to like this. However a lot of the history and references even in just the first few chapters flew right over my head. While well written, and Eliza being an interesting character, I just couldn't get into the whole of the story.

Therefore this is yet another DNF arc at 35%.

Further review:

The Ventriloquists started out interesting, but about forty percent of the way through the book my attention wavered and then I just gave up reading it. While I liked the characters, especiall
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
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E.R. Ramzipoor is a writer based in California. She also works as a content marketer, writing about cybercrime and online fraud. She studied political science at UC Berkeley, where she researched underground literature in resistance movements and discovered the forgotten story of Faux Soir. Her writing has been featured in McSweeney's and The Ventriloquists is her first novel. She lives with her p ...more