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The Ventriloquists

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  673 ratings  ·  221 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
Published August 27th 2019 by Park Row
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  673 ratings  ·  221 reviews

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Kylie D
Well, the first thing I'm going to say about this book is that it is long. Too long. About 200 pages too long. Yes, I understand setting the scene, building up to the finale, etc, however this book settled into tedium, and I got bored. So, is it a tale worth telling and reading? Yes, definitely, but it's needs a lot of the superfluous cut out, and it would be a much stronger, tighter read.

The Ventriloquists is set in Belgium during WW2, and follows members of the resistance that decide to play
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
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
"Still waters are deep" is a saying that I grew up with and it is the perfect analogy for this novel in my mind. In many ways, a reader knows what to expect when picking up a historical fiction novel set during WWII, but this story is unique and differs from most. Its eloquent prose delivers a quiet punch, that's provocative and thoughtful.

The setting in The Ventriloquists is in Belgium in 1943 and tells the story of a brave resistance group set to hold out and conspire against the Germans via
Mel (Epic Reading)
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A stunning true story of ordinary people, in Nazi occupied Belgium, fighting back with printed words. As a Communications major in college (many years ago) I found The Ventriloquists to be very intriguing; both the truth and fiction. E.R. Ramzipoor does a wonderful job of breaking down what is true and what is not in her author's note for those whom feel that is important to identify. Additionally the literary style of The Ventriloquists is gorgeous and leads to quotes like:
"The typewriters has
Rating: 2 stars

As much as I love reading historical fiction about little known episodes in history, especially WWII history, this book didn’t hit the mark for me. There were too many characters, and I was unclear who the narrator was most of the time. The story was interesting, but told in a very convoluted way. I felt like the author would gotten the point across better if the plot had been simplified.

This is the story of a group of people in Occupied Belgium who were forced by the Germans to p
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
In 1943 Brussels, the Nazis have taken over. Helene is 12 years old. She's an orphan who survives by disguising herself as boy. She sells newspapers. Her life changes when she is drawn into a secret underground network that publishes dissident anti-nazi news. When a high-ranking Nazi officer discovers the group, he demands that they print pro-Nazi propaganda or face death. The group decides to pretend to comply, while actually publishing satire against the Nazi occupation.

While I enjoyed the ch
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,
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.
Karen KK
Jan 05, 2019 marked it as netgalley-read-2019  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
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
Melissa Dee
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
The premise of this book is fascinating. A black propaganda exercise of the Nazis turned to the benefit of the Allies. The book starts out interesting, and I waited (and waited) to get invested in the characters. Ultimately, the characters turned too cartoonish and the plot too fantastic (real or not, we missed the motivations) to finish.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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.
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.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Based on 15%: the style of writing is very dry, couldn’t get into the story at all. It is not an engaging read for me to continue with this book.
Kara Babcock
I do so enjoy stories set during World War II that are not about battles or even soldiers. (One could make the argument, of course, that the people in this tale are soldiers, albeit of a different sort.) The Ventriloquists is a based-on-a-true-story story that will appeal to those of us who believe the pen is mightier than the sword. It’s a story about stories, about writing, about propaganda and other dark arts. E.R. Ramzipoor’s dramatization of an actual event during the Nazi occupation of Bel ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were incredibly well developed, and I loved their wit and dry sense of humour. I wasn’t expecting humour like this in a WWII historical fiction novel, but the humour was blended perfectly with the backdrop of the horrific Nazi occupation of Belgium.

I also loved hearing more about the resistance newspapers. It’s a part of WWII that I’ve never thought much about. These journalists literally risked their lives to deliver the ’true news’ to their countrymen
Lee Woodruff
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Novelists have turned attention in recent years to lesser known but interesting subjects from WW2 and this book is no exception. Inspired by the little known Faux Soir movement and little known resistance heroes, the author creates a book that is described as a combination of a heist tale and historical fiction, a kind of “Ocean’s Eleven” meets “All the Light We Cannot See.” Set in Brussels, 1943, a rag tag band of resistance fighters use their voice and risk their lives to publish a satiric new ...more
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
Based on a true story, The Ventriloquists is about a small team of Belgian resistance fighters who embark on a scheme to make fun of the Nazis. That’s their only goal, make fun of the Nazis, make occupied Belgium laugh at the Nazis. Every one of them goes into the caper with the understanding that they will not survive. Except, in the end, some of them do. The lesbians survive.

I should stipulate that this is not the only virtue of The Ventriloquists — far from it. Right before I started reading
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
I received an advanced readers edition in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Park Row Books for the chance to read and review!

THE VENTRILOQUISTS by E.R. Ramzipoor is a debut novel of historical fiction based in true events. The story is set in Brussels in 1943 during World War II. The Nazis are taking over the most popular newspaper to put out their own propaganda, but the Front de l'Indépendance is committed to publishing underground newspapers free from Nazi control.

Journalist Marc Au
Sometimes I receive free copies of a book from the publisher in two formats. I got a digital ARC from Net Galley and a paperback ARC directly from the publisher by mail. I wanted to review this book sooner, but I had so many earlier review commitments and suddenly it's almost the end of December. The Ventriloquists was released at the end of August. I would like to thank the publisher for their generosity.

Although the protagonist is the real historical journalist, Marc Aubrion, my favorite chara
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ll be honest, I don’t typically go for WWI or WWII historical fiction since it’s not a point in history that I particular gravitate towards. I’m typically either Tudor/Victorian or ancient history. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

Set in the backdrop of Brussels in 1943, Marc Aubrion, renowned journalist of Le Soir, is captured by Nazi August Wolff and given the “choice” to publish Le Soir with the Nazi agenda. While convincing Wolff that he will, Aubrion and a ragtag team of re
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
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|
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
Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Ventriloquists

The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor delivers an extraordinary story of courage and defaillance in a time of war. A German officer recruits a ring of resistance journalists to create the propaganda of all propaganda on behalf of the Nazis. Not having a choice, the journalists accept Gruppenführer Wolff’s offer to create a false “La Libre Belgique”, a popular resistance newspaper. Knowing that they will surely be executed as soon as they deliver this false newspaper, they secretly collaborate to
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 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of those astonishing acts of courage (and humor) almost forgotten is brought to life in this novel about WWII Belgium. The Nazis had already taken over Le Soir, Brussel's most popular newspaper, turning it into a propaganda rag, but members of the Belgian Resistance decided to put out an alternative version of the paper on November 9, 1943, giving a nod to the 25th anniversary of the German defeat in World War 1. The idea of an anti-Nazi issue morphed into creating a satirical paper filled w ...more
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Evan Roxanna Ramzipoor is a writer based in California. She studied political science at UC Berkeley, where she researched underground literature in resistance movements and discovered the forgotten story of Faux Soir. Evan has given talks on underground literature at the GLBT Museum, Ohlone College, and USC, has taught writing at UC Berkeley and Hugo House. Her work has been featured in McSweeney ...more

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