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The Book of Lost Names

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Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

388 pages, Hardcover

First published July 21, 2020

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About the author

Kristin Harmel

26 books8,446 followers
Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling and #1 international bestselling author of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES, THE WINEMAKER'S WIFE, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into numerous languages and sold all over the world.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews with the likes of Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, OutKast, Justin Timberlake, and Patrick Dempsey. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features—tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. One of those features—the story of Holocaust-survivor-turned-philanthropist Henri Landwirth (whom both Walter Cronkite and John Glenn told Kristin was the most amazing person they’d ever known)—partially inspired Kristin’s 2012 novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting, which was a bestseller all over the world.

In addition to a long magazine writing career (which also included articles published in Travel + Leisure, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz—where her assignments included flying to London three times to interview the cast of the Harry Potter films. She has appeared on Good Morning America and numerous local television morning shows--and even stumbled into a role as an extra in the 2003 American Idol movie while awaiting an interview with Kelly Clarkson.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She travels frequently to France for book research (and—let’s be honest—for the pastries and wine) and writes a book a year for Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 14,232 reviews
Profile Image for Tina.
2,389 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2023
This book is a WWII Historical fiction. This book has two timeline 2005 (Eva in the present) and the 1940's (Eva in the past). This book is all about WWII when Germany takes over Paris, France. Eva is a Jewish girl that lived in Paris. This book will stay with me for so long. It will touch your heart. Eva is a girl that loves book that after the war become a librarian, but during the war she helped Jewish kids escape France to safe their life. She used The Book of Lost Name to help her remember all the kids real names. This book has sadness, l0ve, misunderstanding, and so much more. If you loved The Nightingale you will love this or if you love historical fiction books about WWII Paris France books. I loved this book so much, and this book should get a million stars. This is one of the best historical fiction books I have read. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher or author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
July 21, 2020
Happy Publication Day to The Book Of Lost Names!

3.5 stars. The tearful ending made me round up to 4 instead of down to 3.

An eye-opening and informative, lighter WWII story.

Eva and her mother are forced to flee their apartment in Paris after being added to the list of Jews in the round up. Before Eva’s father is captured, he provided a plan for Eva and her mother to flee to Switzerland. Eva takes charge and leads her mother to a small, hidden town at the Swiss border. There she and her mother blend in and become part of the small town Resistance where Eva learns the intricate art of forgery, aiding hundreds of young Jewish children in making their way to safety.

This book was a mix of things for me. I enjoyed it and loved the main character, Eva. Eva’s mother, on the other hand, irritated me from start to finish. Her constant negativity was a frustration to endure and I found she distracted me from the story.

I enjoyed learning about the Resistance group who worked so hard to save the Jewish children. However, the majority of the novel lacked the emotional pull and connection I had expected. I didn’t feel any of the true grit and darkness of these wartime atrocities.

Eva’s story in becoming a forger for the Resistance was very interesting and I loved learning about that, however, I wanted more focus on the children the Resistance was saving. I wanted to be fully immersed within the underground children’s rescue mission and hoped for more detail surrounding that underground Resistance network. Had the novel focused more on the underground Resistance network and less on the romance, it would have been much more enjoyable.

A recurring issue I had with the storyline was how many times Eva had faced a “close call”. There were too many convenient instances of officers looking the other way or yawning while checking paperwork which took away from my investment in the story and made it a predictable, lighter, less intense read.

The ending had a great twist that kicked my enjoyment up a notch. After feeling less than emotionally invested for the first 80%, I shed a few tears at the end which was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, it was a well-written, interesting and entertaining read with some wonderful characters, but lacked the emotional depth and grit I crave with historical fiction reads.

Loved this quote: “She doesn’t understand what it means to love books so passionately that you would die without them, that you would simply stop breathing, stop existing.”
Profile Image for Nicole.
718 reviews1,786 followers
May 16, 2021
I have been looking forward to reading this book because the premise sounded interesting. A Jewish forger who helped forge the papers of Jewish children in France to send them to Switzerland. She also records their old names in a book called “the book of lost names”. I love WWII stories but I think it’s about time I take a break. They used to affect me a lot but I guess now since I’ve read more than average I’m more difficult to impress?

I sadly couldn’t connect with this book on any level. While it wasn’t a chore listening to the audiobook, the narration was smooth and clear, the story itself didn’t interest me much. Eva was very undecisive and while she didn’t let her mother control her, she certainly started the self-blame on very absurd stuff. For example, her mother told her it’s her fault her father got captured (she had NOTHING to do with it and could’ve done NOTHING to help) she just wondered if it’s truly her fault. Her personality lacked depth honestly and a “character”.

But that’s fine, not enough reason to rate this book 2 stars.. if it wasn’t for the mother. She annoyed me so damn much. Her characterization was unrealistic. She blamed her daughter for everything and didn't “grasp” that it’s war. For example, Eva warned them about the Jews's capture. Her parents didn’t take the warning seriously. And then the mother blames Eva? She sounded like a child and not a mother. War changes people, usually makes them tougher and stronger. Not like winy children with fictional expectations of war. She wasn’t worried her daughter might get captured, no she only wanted to break into a jail/camp whatever and save her husband. She didn’t have any mental disabilities to be clear and I didn’t think she was meant to be portrayed as a bad mother, that’s why I think her characterization wasn’t good.

I also wish the romance wasn’t so central to the plot, Remy was cool but it just didn’t do it for me. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re looking for something new and refreshing in this subgenre especially since this isn’t based on specific true events (at least the forging part). Overall, this book wasn’t bad but it lacked originality in this genre. It’s not easy to write a touching WWII story nowadays without just simply playing with the reader’s feelings and I’m glad the author didn’t do that here. I wish however the story had more depth, complexity, and fewer cliché moments.

Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
September 11, 2020
Holocaust stories are never easy to read and they shouldn’t be. While we never see the horrors of the death camps in this novel, we see the heartbreaking impact on so many, especially children, whose mothers and fathers were rounded up by the Nazis sent to those camps, killed there or before they get there. It tells of the brave and good people of the French Resistance who risked their lives, some of whom lost family of their own, forging documents and transporting Jewish children to safety. The narrative follows a pattern that I’ve seen in so many recent novels, alternating the past and present, tying the two together and this is so well done here. While the characters are imagined, they represent some real people and their courageous acts to save the lives of so many. This is discussed by the author in her notes at the end to put the imagined story in context with the history.

Eva Traube Abrams, an eighty six year old semi retired librarian has shut out her past, kept it from her family. When she sees a newspaper article about a librarian in Berlin trying to connect people with books that might have been theirs before the Nazis looted libraries in Europe, she knows she can no longer shut out her story. The photo of a book Epitres et Evangiles (Epistles and Gospels), called The Book of Lost Names by Eva and others who forged documents to save Jewish children is more than just a Catholic Church text. It contains secret codes that preserved the given names of some of the children saved. “I want to keep a list of the children we are falsifying documents for. They belong to someone, all of them... Because someone should remember.” Eva’s desire in this beautiful way reflects my belief as well as so many others, that it is so very important to remember these victims.

The novel is filled with tension and intrigue and it’s also a love story. I thought it was such a worthwhile story to read, but I took off a star since the ending, while touching, was predictable and didn’t strike me as realistic. Having said that, I highly recommend it to historical fiction fans, especially those who are as compelled as I am to read these stories and to insure that the victims of the Holocaust, both those who died and those who survived, are not forgotten.

I received a copy of this book from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster through Edelweiss.
133 reviews
March 25, 2021
I really wanted to like this book, the premise was really intriguing, but I did not like the execution. The book's summary starts, "Inspired by an astonishing true story," which I feel is misleading. Yes there were forgers in Nazi-occupied France but Eva, the cast of characters around her, and even the town, are all fictional. There was no Jewish female forger who served as the basis for Eva. Historical fiction novels run the gamut from fictionalized accounts of real people to fictional stories set in historically accurate settings. This book is the later. But that has more to do with the publisher's marketing strategy than the author.

My reactions to Eva, her characterization, and the plot, ranged from disinterested to anger. First, the author cannot seem to decide who Eva is - is she an observant/religious Jewish woman from a religious family that prides their religious observance (as implied by the juxtaposition of Eva to Joseph on p.7), an unaffiliated Jewish woman from a family that is somewhat observant, non-practicing from a non-practicing family, a woman of faith who loses her connection to Judaism as time goes on, a woman who struggles with her Jewish identity, or a woman who is completely disinterested and the only reason why she is nominally Jewish is because the story is set in WWII France, a good Catholic girl? The author cannot seem to decide. Eva is Jewish and observant, when convenient, Eva is not observant and not Jewish when convenient. If Eva is an observant Jew from an observant family, she certainly doesn't act like it. Not a single internal monologue about how she has to change her practice, keep her practice hidden, does not feel connected to Judaism, or anything. I forgot Eva was Jewish until one of the side characters mentions it.

For a novel primarily written in the first person, Eva does not tell us anything about her actions. The reader only discovers it because other characters comment on her behavior. Eva became Catholic and began practicing Catholicism - we learn this from her mother, not from Eva herself. And even then, Eva doesn't address it.

Eva is also terrible at keeping secrets and staying under the radar. Makes false identity cards for herself and her mother so that they can pass as non-Jews, immediately reveals her true indentity to everyone she meets. Gets a new fake identity, immediately reveals it again. Meets Joseph under a pseudonym and told to not use his real name around people. Eva and her mother IMMEDIATELY call Joseph by his true name in front of the boardinghouse proprietress, the exact person they were told to NOT reveal his name to. Similar incidents happen with Genevieve. Either Eva is terrible at keeping secrets or the author got confused and put the wrong names in the text.

The romance between Eva and Remy felt forced and was uninteresting. Why can't female protagonists doing cool stuff - forgery for the resistance and saving children and others from the Nazis, stand on their own? Why shoehorn a problematic romance into the story. Eva's story should have been interesting on its own.

Random fictionalized Nazi with a heart of gold - ugh hard pass. Why is this here?

The author also used poor choice of phrases. Once is a mistake. Three or more times is intentional. The author describes Eva as choosing to walk into the fire, a Jewish child with grief tattooed on her, and Eva states that the Catholic priest "redeemed her." Incredibly problematic language to use for a Jewish character during the Holocaust.

The book left me wondering if the author is Jewish or if the author is a random person who decided to make a Jewish character just for kicks but then didn't want to commit to actually writing an observant Jewish protagonist as a heroine in a WWII but not Holocaust story.

The summary on the back of the book promised me a story about a resistance member who worked as a forger to save children, recorded their identities, and then resurfaces after the war to track down the children and the fight to reclaim them and their identities (as many people who hid Jewish children during the war refused to return them to their families and erased their Jewish identities). Instead, I got a half-baked story with a protagonist who refused to share information with the reader about anything other than a crush she has on the hot Catholic boy working with her with a side of boo-hoo-the-poor-Jewish-children and oh this one Nazi is actually a good guy don't be so judgmental Eva.

I got a free copy as part of a goodreads giveaway.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Danielle.
791 reviews387 followers
December 23, 2020
Everyone should just accept that any book from this time period is going to be gut wrenching. 💔 It is a horrific time in our world history, that should never be forgotten. This book had all those feels 😭😢🤧 I loved Eva and her tenacity and strength. She was such a strong character. The idea of there being a book out there with real names just gives me goosebumps. This was a great book, that I’ll be thinking about for a while. ❤️
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,068 reviews2,668 followers
April 4, 2021
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (Author), Madeleine Maby (Narrator)

This story features Eva Traube, a twenty three year old Jewish woman, living in France during WWII. In 1942, as a student living with her parents, Eva and her parents are on a list to be rounded up. Eva's father is taken but she and her mother are able to escape Paris due to Eva's artistic talent at falsifying paperwork that will allow them to escape to Switzerland. Before reaching the border the women settle in a small town in the Free Zone. It's there that members of the resistance recruit Eva to use her new found forging talents to save thousands of children and adults who would otherwise have been killed by Hitler's regime. 

I enjoyed the historical part of the story very much and more so after I found more information about forgeries during WWII and the work of the Resistance to smuggle persecuted people to safety. It seems impossible that someone could just pick up the trade of forgery and excel at it but that is exactly what some real life resistant fighters did to save thousands of people. People of all nationalities risked and gave their lives in the fight against those persecuting and killing those deemed undesirable by oppressive leaders. 

I did have trouble with the naivety of twenty three year old Eva when she first has to flee her home. At times she reminded me of Scarlet O'Hara, flouncing her petticoats at the thought of not being able to waltz back into her apartment after her father was taken and at being reprimanded by resistance fighters to be careful about what she says and does.  But Eva quickly grows up and makes better decisions, more often than not, as time goes on. Sadly, her mother is shown to be some over the top caricature of a bitter, shrewish woman who literally berates her daughter for trying to save hundreds of children rather than spend time with her mother. Eva is blamed by her mother for every bad thing that happens and every bad thing that might ever happen and her mother's presence in the story weighed negatively on the more important matters in the story. 

My audio version of the book had no author's notes (I have no idea if there are author's notes in the print versions of the books) so I'm including some links of interest to those who read the book. Getting to read the information at the links went far to enhance my enjoyment of the story. It helped me to understand how Eva could quickly learn to do all that she did with her special talents. Rating: 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars.

Q&A with Kristin Harmel, Author of The Book of Lost Names

Adolfo Kaminsky, a former member of the French Resistance, specializing in the forgery of identity documents.

How a WWII-era forger saved lives, one fake document at a time

Published July 21st 2020
Profile Image for Debbie W..
708 reviews453 followers
June 3, 2021
Another well-written book about WWII and the tenacious women who fought, usually indirectly, against the Nazis!

Why I liked this story:
1. the premise of this story about Eva, a young woman working with the French Resistance forging identity documents to assist people, especially Jewish children, escape to Switzerland, is quite intriguing! This underground activity felt exhilarating and frightening at the same time;
2. I found this story a little reminiscent of the book The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor (another great story) in which people forged postage stamps to relay coded messages; and,
3. the dual-timeline (currently a popular writing trend) worked for me!

Things that niggled me:
1. I don't know about the physical copy of this book, but I would have liked to hear an Author's Note on this audiobook. The synopsis states that this book is based on a true story, but what specifically? The actual Book of Lost Names? The characters? The overall idea of people forging documents?
2. I wish Eva's mother was a more sympathetic character (she came off sounding incredibly selfish.) Did she truly know/understand what Eva was doing? This wasn't very clear to me; and,
3. more history (especially about the children saved) and less romance would have suited me fine.

If learning about various ways that people worked against the Nazis during WWII is of interest to you, then you should read this book!
Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
799 reviews1,807 followers
August 8, 2022

My first by Kristin Harmel. I was hooked after a few chapters in and became immersed in the story of Eva Traube. Two timelines that bring everything together.

It begins in 2005, when Eva reads a headline in the paper "Sixty Years After End of World War II, German Librarian Seeks to Reunite Looted Books with Rightful Owners." She recognizes the leather bound book with the gilded spine. Her heart races and she knows she must get back to Berlin.

July 1942 - Eva learns to use her skills to forge identity documents for Jewish kids trying to get to the safe zone in Switzerland. She works closely with resistance groups as arrests are stepping up.

Eva wants to secure the children's real identity so that one day perhaps their parents could locate them. It is a dangerous endeavor, but she has plan that could work. "I want to keep a list of the children we are falsifying documents for. They belong to someone, all of them."

Heartbreaking and harrowing with characters that will stay with me for a long time. I also felt their spirit to survive and bravery. Tissues recommended.
Profile Image for Sarah.
790 reviews
August 11, 2020
Oh dear! I truly wanted to love this novel because the story sounded so intriguing but, my goodness, did I struggle to get to the end! I may as well pat myself on the back for making that effort, for the journey was paved with soporific pathos and whining internal monologue.

What could have been a really wonderful story was spoilt for me by the way it was told.

Because of the way the story was narrated, the romantic passages left me cold and I felt like slapping Eva round the face whenever she revealed carefully guarded secrets and falsified identities. I know I'm going against the grain here, but I'm afraid, for me at least, this novel doesn't deserve more than 2 stars.
Profile Image for Tina.
495 reviews771 followers
November 26, 2020
This is my first Kristin Harmel book. She's a good writer and the story flows well. I did not know much about the French resistance in WWII and it was interesting to read about it.

I liked Eva the main character. She was a strong and passionate woman. She was forging documents for the French resistance and along with her love interest Remy, helped to save many Jewish children by smuggling them into Switzerland. I do however wish the story had focused more on the children and less on the forgery. Despite the material this was not as heavy of a story as I thought it would be. It was lighter and a bit romantic. One thing that bugged me throughout the book was Eva's mother. She grated on my nerves and I just wanted to shake her at times.

I originally would have rated this story a 3.5 stars but towards the end it really picked up and the ending did have me in tears. What seemed like a light story just became so emotional for me therefore granting it a 4 stars. The last 80% or so of the story was captivating! It had a nice twist that has left me pondering and wanting more!
Profile Image for Karren  Sandercock .
739 reviews142 followers
July 28, 2020
May 2005, Eva Traube is in her 80’s and she enjoys working part time at her local library and she spends most of her time shelving books. One day she is shocked to see an article in a magazine, it’s about how the Nazis stole or destroyed priceless books from Berlin libraries during WW II, in the article was a photo of a book that was precious to Eva 65 years ago and she never thought she would ever see it again.

Paris 1942, Eva lives happily with her mother Faiga and father Tatus, once the German’s arrive every day life is made more difficult for Jewish citizens and living in Paris is very hard. Despite being warned about a roundup of Jewish people Eva’s parents believe they are safe and one night during a raid only Tatus is taken into custody. Tatus has told Eva what to do if something ever happens to him, she’s to contact a man her father has organized to help her, he’s nervous, and he gives her some papers and makes her quickly leave.

Eva and her mother escape to a little town called Aurignon in the free zone, using their new identity papers she altered and they find a place to stay at a small boarding house. Eva discovers from her desperation to save her mother and leave Paris, she’s has a talent for forgery and she can help others and the French resistance. Her years of watching her father repair type writers, she has learnt to type and she has a unique skill. Give her the correct paper, ink and pens, Eva can easily create fake identity papers, birth certificates, ration cards, travel documents and copy signatures.

Eva's sweet mother has changed by the loss of her husband and she is now an angry, bitter, difficult women and she thinks Eva should be concentrating on trying to save her father. If she helps the resistance group, her mother has a place to stay and she feels like she is doing her part to get back at the Germans and she can’t do anything to help her father.
Eva spends her time at the local church with Pere Clement a priest, Remy a fellow forger and together they create new identities for hundreds of Jewish people escaping to Switzerland. Eva notices that many of the new identities are for young Jewish children who are not escaping with their parents, they are too young to remember their real names and how will anyone find them when the war ends? Eva comes up with the idea to use a secret code called Fibonacci Sequence that only she and Remy understand, they use an eighteenth century religious book to keep a record of the children’s names and they refer to it as The book Of Lost Names.

Sixty five years later, Eva must face her past to be reunited with her precious book that was taken from a church library during the end of the Second World War and she thought she would never see it again. The Book of Lost Names, has a dual time line that’s very easy to follow, the story is a about family, sacrifice, duty, friendship, honor, betrayal and lost love.
What a brilliant book, five stars from me and if you like to read historical WW II fiction I highly recommend The Book of Lost Names. I have shared my review on Goodreads, Twitter, Amazon Australia, Edelweiss, Kobo and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Pamela Paterson.
393 reviews3 followers
November 3, 2020
After reading the synopsis and it having been compared to The Nightingale and the Lilac Girls, I quickly pressed buy on my trusty iBook app and thought I was in for a treat. It’s a treat alright if you enjoy the vomit 🤢 flavor of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (I just got done watching the HP films). Harsh but fair in my opinion. Fifty pages in and I was wondering how you go about getting your money back from Apple because I was duped by the synopsis of this book. I mustered through till the end because of the $13.99 spent.

How did it get so many 5 stars and what are these other readers reading? Did the person that wrote the synopsis ever read the Nightingale or Lilac Girls? I don’t know what I can safely say, I’m baffled by the comparison.

The story was implausible, the characters unbelievable as well as unbelievably naive. The mother and this is so horrible to say she was so annoying I was wishing that Eva had left her in Paris. I cannot believe that anyone who lived in WWII and was Jewish were as naive and so clueless as to what was happening as Eva’s idiotic mother.

As for Eva I didn’t know what she was a librarian, an artist, an expert forger apparently she was all of these things. The underground were sssooooo lucky to have her, if they said this once they said it a hundred times. Don’t even get me started the mustache twirling dastardly double agent that stuck out like a sore thumb or the sickly sweet romance that would give you cavities. 🙄.

I’d say if you come across this book give it a hard pass but do read The Nightingale, Lilac Girls or even The Alice Network or The Huntress. Those books are worth 5 stars.
Profile Image for Liz.
1,962 reviews2,410 followers
May 7, 2022
I guess I’ve read too many WWII novels as it’s becoming harder to find something new and different. This had a feel of deja vu for me. It’s not that it’s bad, it just doesn’t really cover any new ground.
The story is told in a typical dual timeline approach. Eva Traube Abrams is an 85 year old librarian when she sees a picture in a newspaper that causes her to fly off to Berlin. In her younger days, she was studying at the Sorbonne before the Germans arrived in Paris. She fled with her mother to Vichy territory, hoping to make their way across to Switzerland. But instead, she ends up staying in the small town and creating forged documents.
The novel spends way too much time on romance (a common problem with historical fiction, IMO). The only character I found at all interesting (but not sympathetic) was her mother. In despair over her husband’s removal and deportation by the Germans, she blames Eva and fails to find the good in what she’s doing. She finds constant fault with Eva. She also asks the more interesting questions of Eva about her identity.
It’s obviously well researched and the parts about forgery were excellent. However, the story relies on some leaps of faith (especially Eva’s ability to master forgeries as easily as she does). And the ending is hokey in the extreme.
In the final analysis, I would recommend this for readers who have not read much WWII fiction and who are fans of romance novels. Otherwise, it’s not one I would recommend.
Profile Image for Ingrid.
1,182 reviews48 followers
September 1, 2020
As always I'm trying to find books about WWII that are interesting to read and have a fair bit of reality in them. This book is too much of a romance for me with characters that are magnified in a way that isn't very likely. Big change of character too during the story, from nasty to nice and the other way around. I loved the present part of it with the 85 year old protagonist whom I immediately liked. The history part of the stolen books is very interesting and the explanation at the end of the book is therefore very valuable.
Profile Image for Lori Elliott (catching up).
724 reviews1,764 followers
September 30, 2021
DNF at 60%…

This has gotten so many wonderful reviews but I’m just not feeling these characters or the storyline. Mother’s driving me bonkers with her treatment of Eva… very whiny & ungrateful. Maybe it gets a lot better, but I’m not invested enough to find out. Only 2.5 stars based on the 60% I’ve read.
Profile Image for Annette.
743 reviews321 followers
May 18, 2020
During WWII, forgers played important role in the Resistance. It was a network of “brave people who used their artistic ability and scientific ingenuity to produce convincing documents that allowed innocent people to survive.”

Florida, 2005. Eva Traube, librarian, comes across an article talking about a book, which she thought had vanished forever.

Paris, 1942. Eva is pursuing her doctorate in English literature. Her father, Polish-born Jew, is arrested. But before that he arranged with his employer for fake documents for Eva in order for her to escape to the free zone in Switzerland. Since she has to escape with her mother now, she is given blank documents and supplies to forge their own documents. From Paris, they travel east, toward the Alps and make a stop in Aurignon. Where, even though their papers are very legible looking, there is something else that gives them away. Now, a Catholic priest asks Eva for help in forging papers for Jewish children. He convinces her to do this “artistic endeavors” in order “to move toward a life of freedom.” Her mother wants to continue toward the free zone. Eva is torn. With her work materializing on a page in front of her, “hope floats up within her.” She feels it within her that she is doing a good work and the right one. Her father’s words “Who will remember us?” bring up a concern. Who will remember the real names of the Jewish children for whom she is forging the documents and who are too young to remember later their real names. Her partner in forgery, Remy, comes up with a brilliant idea. His love for math and the Fibonacci sequence give him an idea how to code real names without putting any one in danger.

Written with so much humanity. There is so much love and caring breathed into the characters, making it one of the most endearing and beautiful stories. You can also feel the pain of those who lost the love ones. You can sense Eva’s hesitation. She wants to do the right thing by her mother and the right thing dictated by her heart. But her mother’s different thinking doesn’t make it easy for her. Helping the children makes Eva feel like she “can bring some light to the world, even in the midst of all the darkness.”

The description of the town brings so much of visible charm. I was also enchanted by the invisible charm of the closeness of people working together, being part of a network which helps hundreds of innocent children, who some lost their parents, to escape the injustice inflicted upon them.

I enjoyed the magical description of the town so much that I wanted to locate it on a map. As it turns out, it’s a fictional town. I understand it gives any writer more freedom, who doesn’t have to worry about town’s accuracy. But setting it in a real town makes it a more credible story. That’s the only thing I wished was different about this book.

This spellbinding page-turner doesn’t bring atrocity of WWII and despite the horror and injustice of the war, the author manages to create such heart-warming story of network of people who risk their own lives to save others. The story brings such characters one cares deeply for and who take a reader on an extraordinary journey of courage, faith and bravery.

Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kerrin .
282 reviews231 followers
January 16, 2021
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel is a World War II historical fiction novel. It starts in 1985 when 85-year-old Eva Traube Abrams is shelving books at the Florida library where she works. She sees a magazine article with a picture of a German librarian holding a book that had been confiscated by the Nazis. The article explains the library is trying to return as many stolen books as possible. Eva immediately recognizes what she had called The Book of Lost Names.

During World War II Eva reluctantly becomes a document forger in Aurignon, a small French mountain town in the free zone. Eva’s first partner, Remy, created a code for entering the names of the Jewish children that are being smuggled into Switzerland using the false identities they created. Eva carefully wrote the coded names into the pages of the 18th-century religious text that is pictured in the magazine article.

The story tells of sacrifice, love of country, mother-daughter relationships, heroism, romance, and betrayals. Eva falls in love with Remy, but they are separated when he goes to work for the underground. There is a constant tension in Eva’s life due to the threat of discovery and the safety of the children. We know that Eva survived the war, but what about those she loved?

I really thought I was going to love this book, but I only liked it. It has a 4.36 Goodreads rating, with many five star reviews. It was also one of the Books of the Month on the Simon & Schuster Book Club favorites Facebook page. The reason I didn’t love it was because there was too much inner monologue by Eva. She constantly regretted decisions and repeatedly asked herself “Am I a good Jew?”, “Am I a good daughter?”, “Am I wrong to fall in love with a Catholic?”, and “Why didn’t I say certain things?” etc. On the positive side, the book was well researched, and I learned about how documents were forged. There were some good dramatic scenes, and the ending surprised me.

3-stars for me. This could be a good Book Club book especially when it comes to discussing Eva’s relationship with her parents.
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,938 reviews722 followers
January 25, 2021
4.5 stars

It is truly an education reading many of the books that cover topics about the Holocaust and this one added to my knowledge about the countless men and women who forged documents in France for those who would would soon be dead without these documents. It always amazes me the various ways in which people were able to outsmart and outmaneuver the Nazis. It was extremely perilous work as the Nazis were always at the heels of the people who aided those who had a sentence of death hanging over their heads.

Eva Traube is the heroine of this story, although she is a fictitious person, she represents the many thousands of people who fought clandestinely against the Nazis using their skills.

The book begins when Eva now Eva Abrams sees an article detailing the looting of libraries throughout Europe during the war. She is presently a semi-retired librarian living in Florida but the article describing how they were trying to return these books to families who once owned them allows Eva to make quite a hasty decision. She decides to get on a plane and fly to Berlin for the book that has roused such interest, seems to be in code, one that can't be deciphered. Eva knows only too well that book and what it contains.

The story begins as we learn about Eva's past, her Polish Jew ancestry, the roundup of the Jews, including her beloved father, and the timely way in which Eva and her mother were excluded from the roundup. Eva desperately tries to retrieve her father but sadly finds he is on a transport to Auschwitz almost guaranteeing his death. Eva's mother is distraught, angry, and often belligerent, and blames Eva for not saving him. Together with her mother, Eva escapes Paris, and winds up in a small town in the Free Zone. Discovering this is a way station for Jewish children making their way to Switzerland, she becomes involved in creating the necessary documents for their possible safe journey. One day, she realizes that these children are given assumed names and their real identities will be forever lost. She and another man, Remy, who eventually becomes her love interest, devise a code that inscribes their real names in The Book of Lost Names.

As the war and the hunt for the French resistors heats up, danger moves closer and closer and entrapment seems a certainty. Will Eva, Remy, her mother and others be caught be caught, tortured and killed? Who exactly is friend or foe and as the story escalates there are some who collaborate with the Nazis putting everything and everyone in severe danger?

Very enjoyable and informative book that kept the action going and was not overpowered by romance. A recommendation for this one from this reader.
Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,044 reviews1,367 followers
March 5, 2023
Was Eva seeing correctly? Did this newspaper article actually show the book she had used during the war to put children's names in that they had to change to protect their identity?

Eva had to go to Berlin immediately to claim it.

We now move from present day to 1942 where Eva and her Mother escape from Paris with documents she forged the morning after her father was arrested and taken to a prison camp.

Eva and her mother travel to Aurignon, France, on the advice of a friend where they found lodging and an observant owner that realizes their papers aren’t real.

That turned out well, though, because the owner was part of the French Resistance. Eva was asked to help forge travel documents and birth certificates for Jewish children.

Eva didn’t want to allow the children to be lost forever to their real names so she and Rémy invented a code that would keep the children anonymous but be able to know their real names some day.

The code they used was brilliant, and Eva saved many children.

Now that it is 65 years later she hopes to help find the children and let them know their real names.

THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is another impressive Kristin Harmel gem.

It will grab your heart and pull you in.

Words cannot express the beauty of this book.

All I can say is you must read this book to appreciate it. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
November 15, 2020
In 1942, Eva Traube was a happy graduate student working with her favorite things in the world - books. However, her quiet life in Paris is quickly turned on its head when her father is arrested along with thousands of other Jewish people living in France. This sudden turn of events forces Eva and her mother to flee to the French countryside seeking shelter from the expanding Nazi forces. In the quaint village of Aurignon, Eva finds herself becoming involved in an underground resistance movement forging identities for Jewish children escaping to Switzerland. Eva risks her own safety for the lives of children and to protect their heritage writes their true names in code in a large volume in the small church of Aurignon.

Eva becomes increasingly important to the resistance movement, but things become tricky as she forms relationships with the other members. The ties to her family and to her cause pull her in opposing directions, and she must make life changing decisions. The records she and her partner Remy keep in the Book of Lost Names are vital as the resistance cell begins to disappear. Years later, Eva Traube Abrams is called back to her past when she sees an article about the looting of libraries by the Nazis with the very same volume pictured in it. Eva faces another life-altering choice to continue in her new life or revisit her past with her most painful and most joyful moments.

Kristen Harmel is a New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, and many more novels. This story has tension and mystery while also touching on themes of romance, heritage, and bravery. It is a wonderful work of historical fiction that will engage you with the characters’ resilience.
1 review
August 17, 2020
I love historical fiction and the WWII period of how ordinary people make decisions as they address moral situations, so I really wanted to love this book.

This is an adult book but:
*The vocabulary feels dumbed down
*the reader is treated like we are stupid - why did we need to be told 4 times within 40 pages about valuing her God given talent for artwork?
*the plot doesn't feel tight - there were pages spent on her relationship with her son and how he doesn't know her, but there was nothing at the end about his reaction when she elucidated him.
*the ending was unrealistic
*the story is named after and revolves around the book of lost names yet nothing was explored about what happened to the children who were saved and the knowledge of having original family names returned to them.

I'm stunned that so many others have given this such high marks. If you are looking for a good WWII read, try Night Sky by Claire Francis, Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett, King Rat by James Clavell, or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows.
Profile Image for Karen.J..
190 reviews180 followers
May 17, 2021
“The Book of Lost Names” by Kristin Harmel

I absolutely love Kristin Harmel her research regarding this book is amazing. An incredibly well written historical fiction about WWll. Eva the main character fights for her country, her family and the people that surround her. It’s a deep intense, heartbreaking read with a warmth of romance.
Happy reading...📚
Profile Image for NILTON TEIXEIRA.
790 reviews245 followers
April 16, 2022
3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

This is my second book by this author.
Although I enjoyed “The Room on Rue Amelie”, I started this book without any expectations,
I only picked it because I found the synopsis very interesting and I’m a sucker for fiction work based on WWII.
And this is what it is: a work of fiction.
Did I think that the story was plausible? No. At least not the way it was told here.
Have I learned something new? No. Well, except the use of methylene blue ink to check the level of fat content in cream or milk and lactic acid to erase blue ink and forge documents (but it’s not something that I plan on doing).
But was I entertained? Absolutely! I was completely hooked from its opening and I did not want to let go. It had the perfect flow.
But I could do without the romancing aspects, no doubt about it.
The writing is very simple and sometimes border the juvenile side, but I enjoyed it.
I liked the storyline and its structure, although I would have loved more depth.
I wished that it was gut wrenching.
There was nothing upsetting (except the main character’s mother - well, annoying is a better word - the mother and daughter interactions were very repetitive). But I did have goosebumps when Eva insisted on registering the children’s real names.
Now, I don’t think that comparing this book with “The Nightingale”, by Kristin Hannah or even with “The Alice Network”, by Kate Quinn, is fair, as it creates an enormous level of expectation.
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
793 reviews869 followers
July 21, 2020

AUTHOR: Kristin Harmel
RELEASE DATE: July 21, 2020
GENRE: Historical Fiction


Word War II is without a doubt one of the darkest times of mankind and war stories set in that era are often unsettling because they force us to take a hard look at our heritage and our own position towards race and racism. THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES showcases how harrowing times and great adversity can bring out the best and the worst in people,  it's about finding hope in places you didn't even know to look for it and joy and light in the darkest hours.

It is against the backdrop of a France deeply involved in World War II that bookish Eva, a young Jewish woman, who was raised sheltered is forced to grow up quickly when her father is being deported by the Nazis. On the run with her devastated mother and on the way to neutral Switzerland she finds a modicum of safety in a small town south of Paris. Eva's artistic talent stirs the interest of the local resistance. Her own need for documents that pass Nazi scrutiny draws her into a life of secrecy and danger and soon she's one of the most prolific forgers in France.
"I was never a hero. I was just a young woman trying to do the right thing. .”

I loved Eva, despite the atrocities happening right in front of her nose she fought courageously, looked death in the eye and did whatever she could to help save lives. She had so much honor and gentleness about her and I think that's what Remy, a man who she comes to first trust and then love, drew to her. Torn between her belief and care for her mother on one side and her love for a Catholic man and loyalty to the people she has come to care about Eva has to make some tough decisions, and life itself is at stake, especially when you don't know who you can trust.

Remy's affable and charming personality made him a favorite right from the start. There was a distinct sense of goodness and warmth that radiated off the pages. I had no idea how the author would manage not to break my heart completely but she totally accomplished that feat.
I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.

I wanted to give this story a full five stars so bad, the story itself would have deserved it but there is this one niggle I have. Eva's mother is a real piece of work, blaming her daughter for her husband's deportation, being mean and lashing out. And I so, so wished Eva would have stood up for herself, instead she tried to placate her mother  and many times it felt like Eva was the parent calming a whiny toddler throwing a temper tantrum. I could see why she was that way with her mother, still...She was such a strong heroine in every regard but not when it came to her mother.

The book jumps between wartime and 2005 and while we know the significance of The Book of Lost Names pretty much from the start, we learn so much more about it and why it is even more important to Eva than we thought.
The last 30% are a quick-moving, action-filled and emotional tour de force that left me a little breathless, as if I had lived through Eva and Remy's big finale. Riding on an emotional roller coaster that drags you through hope, love, trust, friendship, humanity and secrets, heartbreak and betrayal this story is a stark reminder that we aren't done processing and learning from this dark spot in our history by a long shot. It made me feel uncomfortable and sad and tear up, but also smile. I loved THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES with all my heart.
“Sir,” I reply, “we are only responsible for the things we do—or fail to do—ourselves. You owe me no apology.”

Profile Image for Lisa.
610 reviews232 followers
June 20, 2020
A captivating historical fiction story full of bravery and resilience.

Eva Traube was forced to flee Paris in 1942 with her mother after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. She finds a refuge in a church in a small mountain town in the Free Zone. There she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to Switzerland.

In erasing these children’s identity Eva knows she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are perhaps too young to remember who they really are. She and Remy, her forging partner, keep records of the children secretly coded in a eighteenth century religious book she now calls The Book of Lost Names.

Eva survives the war and now over 65 years later, She is a semi-retired librarian in Florida. It is at the Library that she spies a photograph of her book from 1942, The Book of Lost Names along with thousands of other valuable books had been looted by the Germans in the final days of the war and it is now housed in a Berlin library. At 86, Eva questions whether she has the strength to revisit old memories And see the book again.

THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is a tension-filled and thought-proving World War II historical fiction drama. Eva’s character is a strong, smart and resilient woman, who is the pillar of the story. Her character is well-developed and the dialog is delightful.

This riveting story is as smartly structured as the code in Eva’s secret book. The writing is engaging and evocative and transports us to Paris and the fictional town of Aurignon, South of Vichy during the height of the war. You can’t go wrong with this engaging story of bravery and perseverance. If you liked The Lilac Girls or The Alice Network you will love this one

Author Kristen Harmel is a international best selling author of numerous books including The Winemaker’s Wife and The Room on Rue Amélie. Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her family.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Gallery Books
Published July 21, 2020
Review www.bluestockingreviews.com

Profile Image for Susan Phillips.
Author 58 books14.5k followers
September 24, 2020
This wonderful book explores a whole new aspect of the French resistance. A real page turner. I can't remember the last time I read a book in one day.
Profile Image for Kristie.
834 reviews361 followers
August 4, 2020
This was the the first book that I read by Kristin Harmel and I thought it was excellent. Several of her other books have sounded interesting to me and made it onto my TBR, but it took a NetGalley deadline to get me to actually read one. I am so glad I finally did and I look forward to reading more of her work soon.

I thought young Ava started out a bit naive. She made a couple of decisions that made me think that she was going to be one of those main characters that was foolish and I wouldn't be able to relate to her. However, she quickly became a brave woman that I could admire.

I thought the writing was engaging and had just the right amount of description. The feel of the story reminds me a bit of The Nightingale. There is romance and danger, betrayal and loyalty, family and obligation, and most of all love. If you enjoyed The Nightingale, you will likely enjoy this story as well. If you thought that story was too light and focused on the romance, you may have a similar opinion of this story. For me, it was just right.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing me with a free electronic copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ink_Drinker.
153 reviews217 followers
August 9, 2020
Wow!!! What a book! It gives me all the feels. I love historical fiction taking place during WWII and have read many fiction and non-fiction books regarding this subject. Kristin Harmel's research and dedication are reflected in this book. She is one of my favorite authors so I was excited, but a little anxious, to see if she could, yet again, write another best seller. Guess what? She did!! Doing it among many good authors writing about this time period.

The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful book cover! Then, after reading just a few pages, I was fully captured by The Book of Lost Names.

Eva, a captivating main character is an experienced librarian. As all librarians do, Eva was shelving books one day at work when she came across a book titled The Book of Lost Names, a book she had not seen in 65 years. The book contains secret code and Eva is the only one that understands it.

Eva, Remy and Pere tell the story of the lives they have saved during WWII. They are everyday ordinary heroes during a dark time and wanted to make sure that others weren't forgotten or abolished from history. Their names are forever captured in The Book of Lost Names.

A BIG thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Books for this magnificent ARC in exchange for my honest review.

#TheBookofLostNames #NetGalley
Profile Image for Britany.
951 reviews413 followers
February 20, 2021
WWII genre historical fiction is my absolute favorite. I have loved this author's works previously, but this one just left me a little wanting.

Eva in Winter Park, FL is working as a librarian when she notices an article with a man from Germany holding a book that has a special meaning to Eva, she immediately hops on a plane. Meanwhile, we journey back in time to 1940s Paris and follow Eva and her family as they navigate watching Paris fall to Nazi Germany and have to flee for their lives. Eva finds herself becoming a forger and while that part was very interesting, the writing was a little flowy to keep me fully invested.

The story kept me invested and I flew through the pages, however there was just something that kept me from fully connecting and caring about these characters-- can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe the quickness of falling in love seemed unrealistic to me, or how easily Eva seemed to travel back and forth during a Nazi occupation. The motivations were tough to engage in. This should've been a home run story and I will admit I did tear up at the end, but it was a snot bomb (which is what I was expecting). I will continue to seek out more by this author and look forward to watching her writing get stronger and sharper with experience.
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