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The Plum Tree

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  13,912 ratings  ·  1,465 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 Blz receives from her beloved Oma. But seventeen-year-old domestic Christine knows there is a whole world waiting beyond her small German
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation (first published December 25th 2012)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  13,912 ratings  ·  1,465 reviews

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Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This book has been for too long on my TBR, and it was one that really intrigued me. Admittedly it was mostly due to the beautiful cover design. The eerie, yet colorful image grabbed me and stayed plastered to my subconscious for a very long time.

It is not the best novel about the Holocaust and WWII, that I have read , but it was a gripping fictional memoir, based on a true story. As a memoir it was very well done. The author has a good narrative style. Nothing in the book is new, but what made
B the BookAddict
Mar 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the 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
"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
Angela M
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a story of the war , of the grave injustices , the horrors of the concentration camps. It is a story of unmitigated hate , but it is also a love story , a story of death and survival. It's a story that reminds us of the holocaust but also reminds us of the resilience of some of the survivors and that not all Germans were Nazis . We've seen real examples of how Jews were helped by notable people such as Oskar Schindler but this novel reminds us that there were others , ordinary German
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(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
Apr 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Once in a while, I fall prey to Amazon recommendations. It's usually when I'm impatient and stressed and I'm looking for the literary equivalent of an After School Special, something that hits the right empathic buttons without much mental strain. The last time I did this I ended up with Orphan Train, which was bad but mostly hit those marks. This book was so painful that I quit reading about ten pages from the end, after forcing myself to keep going long past when I should have abandoned it.

Elyse  Walters
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I broke my rule and read this "historical fiction" about a "normal and good" German family during WW2.

All I can say is it reminds me of a trip I took through German cities in 2002. I took many tours and was shocked to listen, over and over again, to German Guides telling an American audience with Naval Academy alumni present about how wretchedly the Allies had destroyed civilians and cities with bombing. Several of us continued to walk out when this happened.

So I read this "story" where
Lisa Orr
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It's not their fault,"Christine said to Hanna. "What could they have done to stop it? Any of them? What could they have done without getting themselves killed?"
3.5 stars. A very difficult book to rate. I struggled with the first part of the story, as the relationship between the two main characters felt a bit like instalove - we only see them together three times but have to believe in Christine and Isaac's undying love. The main part of the book was phenomenal - shocking, heartbreaking with a
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Not sure if it was the book or narrator but I didn't enjoy the 1st half as much as the 2nd. The 2nd half was unputdownable. Interesting note: the author's German mother and grandparents inspired some events in this novel. Recommended to history and historical fiction fans.
Liza Fireman
This book is a book about WWII. It is described as "A deeply moving and masterfully written story of human resilience and enduring love". I can probably summarize by "yet another romance in WWII". The story was flat, and completely non-realistic, trying to be generic WWII. Most of the story not much is happening and I was very happy that it ended.
There are other great books on WWII, like All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak that are doing an outstanding
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
So, I had lots of trouble getting into this one. It. Just. Drags.
Around page 100 I decided to give up, but then that is very difficult for me and I was j u s t b a r e l y interested enough to give it a few more chapters.
I can't say that it picked up at that point. It really doesn't much get going until maybe 200 pages in, but I am stubborn.
The problems are, sadly, many. There is almost no showing and all telling. That doesn't work. The beginning almost feels like "here are Isaac and Christine
Jen Adams
Jul 17, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Has anyone else noticed that all the 5 star reviews were written by those who are friends with the author, or at least hint at it? If my friend wrote a book I, too, would write a 5 star review.

But this is not a 5 star book. The plot is unoriginal, but does have potential. I just wish that we could have seen Isaac and Christine fall in love instead of the author taking pages upon pages of describing a pasture or a village. I've seen both. Don't need to described to me ad nauseum.

The excessive
Pam Jenoff
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A moving story of Christine, a young German woman, who falls in love with a Jewish boy on the eve of the Second World War. What follows is a unique and memorable tale of loyalty and the strength of the human spirit.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-on-kindle
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
Julie Kibler
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly could not finish this book because of the unbelievable storyline. I did not like the characters, especially the main character, Christine. The romantic story set against the World War II background sounded contrived and many of the choices made by both Christine and Isaac were irrational as well as improbable. I would not recommend this book. Skip over this book and select The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron, a much better read.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Germany, WW2. Such a sad, tragic and horrific story of how the Jews were treated. How the German citizens were treated badly not knowing what the Nazi party was actually doing.
This book took place during the beginning through the end of WW2. The story of a German family and their life and the love a girl for a Jewish boy and his love for her.
A great read, especially to hear the Germans plight.
Rebecca Rosenberg
The other side of the story

Ellen Marie Wiseman has pulled back the curtain on what it was like to live in Germany during WWII . Her characters are as vivid as they are diverse. Her story punctuated with horrors and fears and defiant courage. I'm amazed that this is Ellen's debut novel and interested to read her next. Worthwhile read.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I spent an awful lot of time thinking "can we just get on with it?" The ending was forced and predictable.
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
Barbara White
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This is only my second novel of 2015 and yet I already know it will be in my top 10 this year. It will be a book I think about for a very long time.

The first 15% or so of the book grabbed my attention immediately and drew so much emotion out of me. There was a short time period after that where the author seemed to switch from showing us the story to telling it, and yet there was some passage of time, so perhaps it was necessary, but it was enough that had me thinking perhaps this potentially 5
This was a solid three stars. Historical fiction is a genre I spend a lot of time in, especially WWII historical fiction. I felt this story provided a few new looks at what it must have been like to live at that time. There were some great twists that kept things rolling. I also liked the writing for the most part. It had some well worded descriptive phrases that had me saying, "Nice." But it became kind of exhausting after a while.

I loved the time the author took in setting the stage. She did a
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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A first-generation German American, Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in NYS. She is a bestselling author whose novels have been translated into eighteen languages. Her debut novel, THE PLUM TREE, is loosely based on her mother’s stories about growing up in Germany during the chaos of WWII. THE PLUM ...more
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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.” 20 likes
“When we're together," he whispered, "we'll only see each other, not the ugliness around us.” 14 likes
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