I love historical fiction, especially World War II era stories. I’ve read many, ranging from exceptionally good to just so-so to absolutely dreadful. But I’ve learned from each one of them, a bit of something from history that I was unaware of. And isn’t that, after all, the point of historical fiction?
Young Hannah’s family isn’t particularly concerned in the year 1939. Her German family is well to do, after all. They move in all the best circles and want for nothing. But things quickly begin to change in Berlin as the Nazis quickly move in and begin to take over. They find themselves being shunned by those who once welcomed them. Their possessions no longer belong to them. And they no longer feel safe. All because they’re Jewish.
So when her father discovers a possible escape route, he jumps on it. After much struggle, the family finds themselves aboard the St. Louis, bound for Cuba. The country has promised safe haven to those escaping Hitler’s Germany. As the family pulls away from the shores of their homeland, they begin to relax a bit and hope for a happy future. But things take an unfortunate turn when Cuba suddenly refuses to admit them. An entire ship full of passengers is stuck in limbo as they await word of their fate.
This is an outstanding debut novel. It’s clear that the author put much thought and research into this story. We hear the story from two generations, that of young Hannah and that of her great niece, Anna. As Anna discovers her past, she helps us to fill in the gaps as well. An excellent story for fans of historical fiction!
I’m a sucker for epic stories, pieces of historical fiction that not only provide factual information but also spin a marvelous tale. Some of my very favorite books ever read fall under this category. This book by Eliza Graham did not disappoint.
The time is the late 1930s, the place is England. Young Benny has come to England to escape Nazi Germany. He’s part of a group of young boys taken in by a well-to-do family. They have a chance at a new beginning, a new life away from the horrors back at home.
Fast forward to modern times. Rosamund has taken on a nursing job with ulterior motives, a chance to return to her childhood home and confront her past. Benny is now on his deathbed and requires round the clock care. He doesn’t know Rosamund, and he doesn’t know anything about her past. But he did know her grandmother, for she was the one who took him in as a young child. As Benny and Rosamund become closer, they begin to confide in each other. Turns out, Rosamund isn’t the only one hiding secrets.
This is a very well told story. The author seamlessly transitions between past and present as she writes. The storyline is well-thought-out, and the characters are described fully. It’s historically accurate as far as the culture and attitudes of that time period. The mystery and suspense aspect is drawn-out enough to keep you guessing until almost the very end. As far as historical fiction goes, it’s one of the better books I’ve read from that genre.