And then came war . . .
“Today.” Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.
“Vienna, 1942.” Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family’s tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.
The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?
As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait–Adele–they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I did not realise that this was a Christian themed book when I began reading it. usually, that tends to make me veer away. In this case though, although there are many religious references, this book is deeply touching and moving novel worthy of the journey through reading it, and I didn’t mind the religious theme.
I have a strong interest in Birkenau, as I had family members who perished there as well as a grandfather who was part of the British Forces then and was involved in the rescue of some survivors of the camp. This book told me a story that I could easily imagine being true and made me feel as if I were right there alongside the characters.
This is not an easy book to read. Although the writing is beautifully crafted and the two separate story threads weave together wonderfully at the end, this novel is also about very tough subject matter. The lack of humanity and the atrocities committed during this period of history are brought to light in a very bold and human way in this work, and it may make you cry, make you angry and make you question the word we live in from time to time during reading. It is a powerful book.
I felt so very close to Adele that when it was time to part with her as the book had ended, I wished I could know more about her years with Vladimir after the story stopped. I have been thinking about this book consistently since I finished it. That rarely happens.
If you like historical novels, this is a great one. If you have an interest in Auschwitz and more specifically Birkenau, this is a book you should read.
My favourite thing about this novel, was the enduring spirit of human life, and the ability to find beauty in negative spaces. Adele saw people at their worst. She witnessed terror, cruelty and genocide, but still came out above it all. I would like to think that happened to many of the survivors.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.