Saturday, October 07, 2017

WWII Circus Novel An Atmospheric, Not-to-Be-Missed Masterpiece

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Kicked out of her home in Holland after becoming pregnant with the child of a Nazi soldier, 16-year-old Noa Weil is forced to seek shelter elsewhere.  Aching from the loss of her baby, who was taken by the Nazis, she's bereft and adrift.  She sleeps in the German train station where she cleans to make enough money to live.  Noa's only goal is to to keep well under the radar, drawing no attention to herself whatsoever.  So, when she comes upon an unsupervised boxcar full of Jewish infants headed for a concentration camp, she hesitates.  But only for a moment.  Determined to save at least one baby, she snatches a child and runs.  

On the brink of death after trudging through the brutal winter countryside, Noa finds shelter with a German circus.  To fool the Nazis, she will have to blend in with the family of performers.  Although she has little experience, she's to undergo rigorous training as an aerialist.  

Astrid Sorrell, a master aerialist who's hiding her own secrets, wants nothing to do with the ludicrous scheme to turn Noa into a circus performer.  The only thing Astrid needs less than a bumbling student is a rival who's younger, prettier, and surprisingly successful at her new job.

When the circus attracts the most unwelcome attention of local Nazi soldiers, however, the women will have to band together to save themselves and those they love.  

I'm a longtime fan of Pam Jenoff's WWII novels.  The author—a lawyer who has worked for both the Pentagon and the State Department—is a Holocaust expert who infuses her stories with vivid historical detail; tense, engaging plot lines; and heroines who are sympathetic yet strong.  Her newest, The Orphan's Tale, is a haunting, character-driven novel that drew me in from the first word, keeping me utterly spellbound until the last.  It's sad, but memorable and undeniably compelling.  If you're a fan of well-written WWII fiction, as I definitely am, you will not want to miss this absorbing story.  Just be sure to clear your calendar because once you start, you won't be able to put this one down.

(Readalikes:  It's billed as The Nightingale [by Kristin Hannah] meets Water For Elephants [by Sara Gruen] and I think that's pretty apt.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, mild sexual content, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff at Costco with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.)

3 comments:

  1. I found this one at a thrift store. I'll have to bump it up my tbr list.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Whenever you give something an A rating, I always put it on my TBR because you rarely give As out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Think I have to read this one! Love that not only is set during WWII, but that it's set in a circus, too. Great review!

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

P.S.: Don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away. I have to approve each one before it posts to prevent spam. It's annoying, but it works!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin