It is Book Club Friday today, and I am excited to share my review of this month’s book, The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff. I really liked this book a lot. It certainly held my attention, and I was very attached to the characters. I actually finished it early in the month, which is unusual with my crazy schedule, but I couldn’t stop reading at night and stayed up way later than normal to keep reading. It was a great historical fiction tale, which is probably my favorite genre. The story takes place during World War II and revolved around 2 women who became an unlikely pair. One was a young teen, Noa, who had become pregnant by a Nazi soldier and then was cast out by her parents as a result. She was sent to a center where she delivered her a baby boy and was forced to give him up against her will. She was living and working at a train station when she came across a train car full of Jewish infants, some of which had already frozen to death. Reminding her of the baby she lost, she snatched one little boy and fled on foot in the snow to escape being discovered by Nazi soldiers. The second woman, Astrid, was the daughter of a Jewish family that ran a circus in Germany and around Europe for many years. She had left home and the circus life to marry a German Soldier. When the war got worse, her husband was forced to cast her out for fear of his own life. Her family was nowhere to be found and thought to have been killed, so she found refuge with a nearby German circus that used to be her family’s rival. The head of that circus knew her and her family and gladly brought her in to give her safety as the circus’s lead aerialist. It was understood that all circus performers were like family no matter what circus you came from. When Noa was discovered passed out in the snow with the baby near the circus by one of its top performers one night, they took her and the baby in. While Astrid was forced to teach Noa how to be an aerialist in order to also provide them with refuge, their relationship, strained at first, eventually became one of survival and sacrifice.
As I said, I was very wrapped up in the characters and loved seeing how the two women’s relationship went from rivals to a tender, caring and protective relationship. Their struggles for survival and strong urge to protect the baby and each other at all cost brought the two of them together in a way that neither of them ever dreamed was possible. The horrors that the Jewish people faced as a result of the war was depicted in a way that made you feel deep emotions for the characters and what they faced during that time. It truly gives you a glimpse of what life was like during that time period and what a family the circus performers are to each other. The descriptive language allowed me to visualize what it was like under the big top of that circus as they all feared for their lives and tried to maintain their composure during each performance. If you like historical fiction, you will really enjoy this book. It is filled with extreme sadness, heartbreak, and loss; but it is also filled with love and triumph. I highly recommend The Orphan’s Tale as one you should read.
My pick for October is a new release by the best selling author, William Kent Krueger, entitled This Tender Land. This book became an instant New York Times Best Seller just after its release earlier this month. It is another historical fiction novel that will take us on the journey of 4 Native American children in Minnesota in summer of 1932 during the Great Depression. These 4 children became orphans when they were forcibly removed from their parents and were sent to be educated. It is said that fans of Where the Crawdads Sing and Before We Were Yours will love this book. I really enjoyed both of those novels, so I am hoping this one will not disappoint. Will you come along and read with me?
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