goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Orchid House
Author: Lucinda Riley
Genre: WW2
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 523
Date read: October 2014

As a child Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park estate, where her grandfather tended the exotic flowers. So when a family tragedy strikes, Julia returns to the tranquility of Wharton Park and its hothouse. Recently inherited by charismatic Kit Crawford, the estate is undergoing renovation. This leads to the discovery of an old diary, prompting the pair to seek out Julia's grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed Wharton Park. Julia is taken back to the 1940s where the fortunes of young couple Olivia and Harry Crawford will have terrible consequences on generations to come. For as war breaks out Olivia and Harry are cruelly separated


A must-read for anybody who enjoys intriguing family secrets. I was very pleasantly surprised by it, and quickly swept up into the events of the book. I really came to care about the characters and was interested in what would happen next.

I read this in translation which usually isn't my first choice, but I almost forgot it was a translation! The language flowed beautifully, and I never mentally translated it back into English, which is otherwise often the case.

Riley did throw one loop at the reader that I think she would have been better off just leaving alone. It had no real purpose and seemed forced.

So because of that, I've subtracted a single star. But 4 still remains because of the general delightfulness of the book :)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Fiction, WW2
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~18hrs
Date read: February, 2014

Sage Singer befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret - he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And most of all - if Sage even considers his request - is it murder, or justice?

Very different from Jodi Picoult's other books, but also, I think, better. It was less emotionally manipulative than her books tend to be, while still packing a punch. Besides, I've always been fascinated by WW2, so that in itself made me interested in reading this book.

I 'read' it as an audiobook, where different people narrated the different sections, which I thought worked nicely. It helped me to always remember who was the narrator at any given time.

The moral dilemma was interesting, and is what I've come to expect from any book written by Jodi Picoult. There's no easy answer usually, but I think she handled it very tastefully.

It did have a slightly more open ending regarding Sage's future than I had expected, but not so open that it bothered me. Definitely a book I'd recommend - especially if you're interested in WW2 as seen from both a Jew and a German's POV.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: World War II
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 368
Date read: June, 2013

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

... And here I thought "Code Name Verity" packed a punch...

Rose Under Fire is an extremely poignant and important book. I literally sat stunned for a couple of minutes after finishing it (be sure to read the author's afterword!). The horror of RUF is that this is all REAL! Oh sure, there never was a person like Rose Justice - the American who got mistaken for a French political prisoner and thus sent to Ravensbrück... but Ravensbrück itself is real... the war crimes committed against the "rabbits" were real. And that's what makes this book such a devastating read. Rose made the horrors of the concentration camps become real in a way few other books have managed to, because she is such a relate-able heroine, and the shock of going from discounting the rumours of medical experiments in concentration camps as "anti-German propaganda" to seeing for herself the results of those experiments is only all too believable.

The novel is interspersed with Rose's poetry - some of which is too heartbreaking for words.
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Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: WW2
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 452
Date read: July, 2012

Oct. 11th, 1943 - A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

I knew nothing about this book when I started it, so I had no idea what to expect, and even so it managed to surprise me. It started out as a fairly average WW2 spy novel (somewhat similar to Connie Willis' books in writing style, actually), but quickly changed into something very much out of the ordinary.

It is very, VERY slow to start, and I actually considered giving up on it once or twice, but I'm glad I stuck with it, because it definitely becomes worth it, and I think I read the last 50% in one or two sittings.

Not at all the book I had thought it would be, but very interesting and very thoughtprovoking.

I wish I owned the book as a book-book though, and not just as an e-book, because certain events in the second half of the book made me want to flip through the first half again, to pick up clues. And that's just not as easily done in an ebook!
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Title: Pigen fra Auschwitz (The Girl From Auschwitz)
Author: Morten Vestergaard
Genre: Non-fiction, WW2
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 205
Date read: March, 2012

Arlette Levy Andersen lived in the concentration camps Birkenau and Auschwitz for more than a year near the end of World War 2. For four decades Arlette didn't even tell her own Jewish family what she experienced there.

In "The Girl From Auschwitz" Arlette finally opens the doors to the horrible experiences because she feels obliged to do so. "Soon nobody will be left to tell about what happened," is her way of expressing it. Arlette tells about her childhood in Paris, being arrested at her university, being deported in stock cars and the stay in the concentration camps. About surviving. About staying quiet and keeping her memories to herself. And about the love that took her to Denmark after the war, where she got married and made a new life for herself.


One of the most moving books I've read about concentration camps and WW2. I couldn't not read it in one sitting, and put it down with a heavy sigh and tears in my eyes.

What makes this book so powerful is that Arlette's story isn't unique. She is merely one of 1,3 million prisoner's of Auschwitz, but unlike 1,1 million others, she got out of there alive.

I'll never understand the Holocaust (nor do I really want to, actually!). Killing people in active war is one thing, but slaughtering people like that, in cold blood, is quite another. How could the soldiers make themselves do it? How could they live with themselves afterwards? I guess they must somehow have convinced themselves that they weren't proper humans, and that killing them was no worse than killing animals... at least, that's the only explanation I can find.

I'm glad Arlette decided to speak out, and agreed to have this book written. Granted, it didn't tell me anything about Auschwitz that I didn't already know, but hearing it from somebody who experienced the terrors herself and survived makes for a very powerful story.

Unfortunately "The Girl From Auschwitz" hasn't been translated to other languages.
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Title: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Author: John Boyne
Genre: WW2, YA
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 224
Date read: December, 2010

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I'm not entirely sure what I think about this novella. I had no expectations at all, as the only thing I knew about it, was that it took place during WW2 and that "the boy in the striped pyjamas" was a prisoner of a concentration camp.

Generally speaking, I liked the book - although I'm not sure that 'liked' is the right term for the effect it had on me. I liked the way it was written through a young naive boy's POV, even if that boy did at times act FAR beneath his age. I'd have found it a lot more believable if Bruno had been 6 rather than 9. Forgetting the names of some of his best friends after less than a year? Really?

Still, it was Bruno's naivete and innocence that made the story work. The ending wouldn't have been at all believable if Bruno had been more mature or world-wise. As it was, it was a tragic story that (apart from Bruno's age) really worked for me.
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Title: Sarah's Key
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Genre: ww2
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~11 hours
Date read: May, 2010

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Unfortunately I didn't care much for the narrator (I don't remember her name, but as she was a Danish narrator, that won't really matter to most of you anyway ;) ) as her voice was very, very monotonous. Thankfully the plot more than made up for it!

World War 2 stories have always fascinated me, as they show so much about human nature. This one was especially interesting, as it brought home to me rather forcefully how difficult life was for Jews in other European countries - not just Germany and Poland. I tend to think that most were treated like Danish Jews, and keep forgetting that that's not the case.

Sarah's Key wasn't as devastating as I'd expected, but it was still a heartbreaking story. I liked the way it was written - with parallels to present-day France - as that gave a very nice perspective to the story. But some of the attitudes depicted in the book frustrated and infuriated me - just because it's been 60 years doesn't mean we should forget all about the Holocaust.

Great book, even if it did end up being very different from what I had expected.
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Title: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: ww2, childrens
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 131
Date read: March, 2010

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated". Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life.

Very sweet book showing a snapshot of life in Denmark during World War 2. It was rather odd to read such an accurate account in a "foreign" book, but at the same time, I was almost proud that the Danish resistance was deemed interesting enough to be recorded by somebody outside Denmark.

It's a very quick read - took me no more than an hour - and obviously targeted towards children. For all that though, it was a very poignant book, and captured the atmosphere (as portrayed in other books... obviously I wouldn't know myself) very well. Actually, in style and atmosphere both it reminded me a lot of my favourite WW2 novel - "Karen Kurer" by Estrid Ott. "Karen Kurer" is aimed at a slightly older audience though.
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Title: Reunion
Author: Fred Uhlman
Genre: WW2
Rating: 2/5
# pages: 100
Date read: June, 2009

1932 Germany: Middle-class, Jewish Hans forms an intense friendship with Konradin, a young aristocrat. A year later it is over. Reunion is a look at both the nature of friendship and the effect of Hitler’s rise to power on ordinary lives.

I sometimes get the feeling that books about World War II ought to be highly rated simply because they're about WW2, and therefore I feel guilty when I can't in good conscience do that. I don't know why that is.

Anyway, this is one of those books where I can't rate it much higher than I did. I don't know what I expected of the book, but this wasn't it. At only 100 pages it's more of a novella than a novel, and because of the Danish translation of the title (Iron Gate) I had assumed that it took place in a concentration camp, rather than - as the case is - in a fairly upper-class school in Stuttgart, Germany. I know that's my fault and I can't blame the book for my misconceptions, but it still affected the way I viewed it.

That aside, the book was reasonably interesting, but neither emotionally nor intellectually engaging, with the exception of the very final paragraph. The end was thrilling, and for once I didn't mind the climax being left unexplained - it seemed to fit the rest of the novella. Still, it seemed more like it ought to be a couple of chapters in a much longer book, than a book in its own right.

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Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer
Genre: Fiction, ww2
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 240
Date read: April, 2009

Summary: January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb.

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island--boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Review: This is a comfort book of the best kind. It's cosy, it's funny, it's well-written and the characters are delightful. In atmosphere it reminds me of many of the books by Estrid Ott - one of my favourite Danish authors.

I've always loved reading books made up of letters, so that's an added bonus to this book, and through those letters I fell completely in love with the different characters - especially Juliet and Kit. Also, reading about WW2 has always fascinated me, so learning about a new, and lesser known aspect of the war was very interesting.

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Title: Højtlæseren (The Reader)
Author: Bernhard Schlink
Genre: World War 2
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 164
Date read: March, 2009

Summary: When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover...then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

Review: Recommended to me by [livejournal.com profile] irinaauthor
What I most liked about this book was the writing style, which actually came as a huge surprise to me, because usually I'd find that way of narrating (telling everything from a distance, very little dialogue, hardly any characterisation at all) boring, but it worked very well to maintain the almost unreal atmosphere of the book, and had me wonder on several occasions if this might actually be a memoir, rather than a work of fiction.

I can't decide whether or not I agree with Michael's actions and reasoning. I probably would have acted differently, but that may just as well be me who's wrong and he who's right as the other way around. For the same reason I can't really figure out whether or not I liked the book. I was fascinated by it, and completely mesmerised by the narrative, and yet I felt like I was watching the events from afar, and never felt drawn to the characters.

I have a hard time picturing how this novella could suitably be turned into a movie, but if it's done well, I don't wonder at all that it was nominated for an Oscar.

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Title: Atonement
Author: Ian McEwan
Genre: Historical fiction, ww2
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 376
Date read: January, 2009

Summary: We meet 13-year-old Briony Tallis in the summer of 1935, as she attempts to stage a production of her new drama The Trials of Arabella to welcome home her elder, idolised brother Leon. But she soon discovers that her cousins, the glamorous Lola and the twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, aren't up to the task, and directorial ambitions are abandoned as more interesting preoccupations come onto the scene. The charlady's son Robbie Turner appears to be forcing Briony's sister Cecilia to strip in the Fountain and sends her obscene letters; Leon has brought home a dim chocolate magnate keen for a war to promote his new "Army Amo" bar; and upstairs Briony's migraine-stricken mother Emily keeps tabs on the house from her bed. Soon, secrets emerge that change the lives of everyone present...

Review: It took me quite awhile to finish this book. A lot longer than I had expected. The book is split up into 3 parts and an epilogue. The first part was exceedingly boring and almost caused me to give up in despair. I got stubborn though, and stuck with it. And I'm glad I did, because part 2 and 3 were a lot better. Still, like somebody else expressed it, McEwan always feels like he takes about 20 pages to describe someone walking down a flight of stairs.

A lot of what I would have considered important plot elements got left out when the book moved from part to part, and was only alluded to later on, which made the plot somewhat disjointed, but it actually worked well. At first I felt like I was missing out on important plot points, but "what happened" is never as important as the consequences of it, and I guess this is a good way of showing that. I hated Briony at first, but came to pity her as the story moved on.

I'm not sure it's a book I'll read again, but it did end up being better than I had feared at first, even if not as good as I had expected or hoped for. I debated whether to rate it at 6 or 7, but after the first part, the story did end up grasping my attention, so I'll leave it at 7.

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Title: Farthing
Author: Jo Walton
Genre: Alternative history, crime
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 319
Date read: January, 2009

Summary: Over a summers weekend in 1949 -- but not our 1949 -- the upper-crust "Farthing set," the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Hitler eight years before, enjoys a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter of two politicians in the group; since her marriage to a London Jew, relations have been strained. So she's surprised when she and husband David are invited for the weekend. Then, overnight, a different member of the set is found murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic. As the authorities begin to investigate, it becomes clear to Lucy and David that they were invited in order to pin the murder on David. But whoever devised this conspiracy didn't reckon on the man from Scotland Yard being someone with his own private reasons for sympathizing with outcasts and looking beyond the obvious. As the trap slowly shuts on Lucy and David, they begin to see a way out -- a way fraught with peril in a darkening world. More than an alternate-history story, more than a drawing-room mystery, Farthing is a compelling story of encroaching darkness and the people who ultimately decide to resist it.

Review: I really enjoyed the writing style of this novel, with every other chapter being told by Lucy Kahn in first person and every other chapter told from the view point of Inspector Carmichael in third person. Jo Walton did an excellent job of keeping the two different styles distinct, and letting us see the plot unfold from each viewpoint.

But while I enjoyed the writing style, I'm not too sure about the plot. I've never been big on whodunit, but this had the distinct advantage of giving the reader all the same pieces of information as the inspector had, so I was able to puzzle out the clues at the same time as he was. The ending was greatly disappointing, not from a literary point of view but from a personal point of view. I didn't like that it had to end that way, but I can see how it would be necessary to keep true to the book's universe... where might makes right, and prejudices run abundant.

All in all a very interesting social realistic novel set in an alternative history. I'm glad to have read it... but not sure I'd be going out of my way to get hold of more of Walton's books.

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Title: Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Genre: biography, ww2
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 237
Date read: March, 2008


Summary: This vivid, insightful journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary on her 13th birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Her marvelously detailed, engagingly personal entries chronicle 25 trying months of claustrophobic, quarrelsome intimacy with her parents, sister, a second family, and a middle-aged dentist who has little tolerance for Anne's vivacity. The diary's universal appeal stems from its riveting blend of the grubby particulars of life during wartime (scant, bad food; shabby, outgrown clothes that can't be replaced; constant fear of discovery) and candid discussion of emotions familiar to every adolescent (everyone criticizes me, no one sees my real nature, when will I be loved?). Yet Frank was no ordinary teen: the later entries reveal a sense of compassion and a spiritual depth remarkable in a girl barely 15. Her death epitomizes the madness of the Holocaust, but for the millions who meet Anne through her diary, it is also a very individual loss.

Review: Again an important book about World War 2. Very well written - I kept forgetting it was a real diary and not a fictionalized account of their lives. However, this time around I also found it a very depressing read, because from the very begining you know (well, I did anyway) that Anne doesn't survive the war. I would have been interested in hearing more about what happened after the end of the diary, but I guess there's not much documentation on that.

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Title: The Hiding Place
Author: Corrie ten Boom
Genre: Christian non-fiction, ww2
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 214
Date read: March, 2008


Summary: In World War II, Corrie ten Boom and her family risked their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis, and their reward was a trip to Hitler's concentration camps. But she survived and was released--as a result of a clerical error--and now shares the story of how faith triumphs over evil. The Hiding Place tells the riveting story of how a middle-aged Dutch watchmaker became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler's death camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century.

Review: A difficult, but important book to read. I pray that I may never have to go through the hardships Corrie experienced, but that if I do, God will grant me the strength to show the same grace as she and Betsie did. We tend to forget that God didn't stop practising miracles after the time the Bible was written.

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Title: Those Who Trespass Against Us
Author: Karolina Lanckoronska
Genre: Non-fiction, ww2
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 294
Date read: February, 2008


Summary: Born in Vienna in 1898, Karolina Lanckoronska was an aristocrat and art historian who taught at the University of Lwow. When the Soviets came to occupy the city, Lanckoronska became active in the Polish resistance. She was arrested in 1942, imprisoned and sentenced to death before being incarcerated, first in Stanislau then in Lwow and Berlin. She was finally placed in a concentration camp in Ravensbruck.

As a Countess, Lanckoranska was subjected to varying treatment, at times suffering near starvation, only to receive extra food and medical care at other times according to the often-conflicting concerns of the authorities in Berlin. With the intervention of some influential friends, the honourable actions of one Nazi, and efforts by the Swiss scholar Carl J. Burckhardt, she was eventually released.

Throughout her imprisonment, Lanckoronska remained defiantly resilient, loyal to Poland and committed to her fellow prisoners.

Review: While an interesting enough plot, the writing was unfortunately very dry and at times even dull and it therefore took me ages to read it. I'd still recommend it though, as you seldom hear much of World War 2 from a Pole's point of view, and I therefore learned a lot about how their fight wasn't just with the Nazi's, but with the Communists as well.

However, it utilized one of my major bookish pet peeves: an excessive use of other languages in a book. When writing a book stick to one language! People reading the book know very well that General Whatever really speaks German, but it's been translated for the book for our benefit - there's no need to have half of his conversation be in German! I can understand it when there are words/phrases that just don't work well in the translated language, but writing "Los!" instead of "Go!" just comes across as both pompous and pointless.

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Title: The Ship of Brides
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: world war ii
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 357
Date read: August, 2007


Summary: A fictional account of an actual voyage from Australia to England in 1946 by HMS Victorious, a WW2 aircraft carrier. On this, its last voyage before decommissioning, the role of the Victorious could not have been more different to its one in the war. It was a transport ship for some of the last Australian war brides to leave Australia, young women who had married British servicemen serving in Australia during the war, taking them to their husbands and new homes in the UK. The story is woven around four young women from vastly different backgrounds who are brought together through having to share a cabin for the journey.

Review: I've always been fascinated about the different aspects of World War II and the effect it had on the world. This is a different book than most as it concerns life after the war rather than during it. In style - although in no way in plot - it reminded me quite a bit of "A Town Like Alice" by Nevil Shute. It's an interesting insight into a social phenomenon we would otherwise not hear about, unless our grandmothers happened to be one of those war brides. I highly recommend it.

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Title: Night
Author: Elie Wiesel
Genre: World war II, non-fiction
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 115
Date read: April, 2007

Summary: In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

Review: I'd heard many people talk about how terrible and how devastating this book is, and that's very true, but I found it less moving than I'd expected to. It contained nothing new. That doesn't make what happened any less horrible, but it did mean I wasn't shocked by the book, nor surprised by any of the actions performed by the Germans. Actually I found it relatively subdued compared to many of the other WW2 biographies I've read. Also either the writing or the translation was very distached, so I never felt able to relate to Elie, the same way as I could to Corrie ten Bom, Anne Frank or Tante Soof - just to take a few examples.

The most tragic part of "Night" was the fact that if Elie and his father had just remained at the infirmary, they would have been released by the Russians a few days later. Instead, they feared (reasonably! I would have too!) that the Germans were just saying that they would be left alone, but they would really be sent to the crematories, so they left with the others when the camp was evacuated, and suffered through another couple of months of horrors, before liberation finally came - although for Elie's father it came in the form of death rather than the end of the war.

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Title: Far Above Rubies
Author: Cynthia Polansky
Genre: World War II
Rating: 10/10
# pages: 256
Date read: April, 2007

Review: Far Above Rubies is based on the authentic story of Tante Soof, a Dutch Jew who at a late age marries into a family with six stepdaughters. When the occupation comes in 1941 and Hitler orders all Jewish teenagers to be sent to work camps, Soof (or Sofie) refuses to let her daughters be sent away on their own, and insists on accompanying them to the work camp they are sent to. Once there she does her best to keep up their spirits and health – often going without herself, in order to give them a bit more water or food. Unfortunately she can only do so much, and when they are sent to Auschwitz it is all she can do to keep herself alive.

I hope this book will eventually become as well-known as "The Hiding Place" and "The Diary of Anne Frank" when describing the lives of Dutch Jews during World War Two. It paints a vivid picture of their daily lives, and of the atrocities performed by the German soldiers, expressed very eloquently in the words of one of the guards at Auschwitz, "Nobody will help you. Even if you do survive [Auschwitz], who’s ever going to believe you?" Fortunately word got out, and we do believe her.

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." (Proverbs 31:10) When reading Far Above Rubies, it is obvious why the author decided to tie this verse together with the story of Tante Soof. A woman more compassionate and loving would indeed be very difficult to find – a woman willing to give up her life for that of her stepdaughters, leaving behind the love of her life, in order to take care of his daughters to give him the peace of mind that at least the 7 of them are together. (Written for Armchair Interviews)

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Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: World War II, Fiction
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 550
Date read: November, 2006

Summary: Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book - although she has not yet learned how to read - and her foster father uses it, "The Gravediggers Handbook", to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative. (From Amazon.com)

Review: Amazing book depicting the life of a German family during WWII. Very depressing as it showed the life of a family who were against the war, rather than a family pro-Hitler. It was written from the viewpoint of Death (the character, not the state of being) which made for a fascinating writing style which I had to get used to at first, but then really enjoyed. Very, very good book that stayed with me for quite awhile after I'd finished it.

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