Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Copy from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson
“Years ago my mom told me life sometimes leads you along a strange crooked path, but in the end it will always take you where you’re supposed to be, she replied.”
Irma Joubert’s latest tale once again draws the reader to the complex life of South Africa during WWII. Readers of her previous novel, Child of the River, will find many of the same characters in this book along with many new ones. The story begins in Italy in 1939 and revolves around Marco Romanelli and the Rozenfeld family and their plight to escape the Nazis.
After four years of hiding the Rozenfelds in isolation in a mountainous cave and nearly starving, Marco and the Rozenfelds are captured by the Nazis and shipped to a camp. The depth of their tragedies during these difficult times is heart breaking. After the war finally ends and Marco returns home to his village, a sick and broken young man, his family sends him to South Africa to stay with his brother and recover from the war.
Marco meets Dr. Lettie Louw, who begins to nurse him back to health. Lettie and Marco marry and begin their family, only to have another of life’s difficulties change their course. Read this detailed account of Marco and Lettie’s life as they encounter complexities one can only imagine.
Once again Joubert gives the reader a good look at religious and ethnic prejudices during this very difficult time in history. The author delivers a deep, detailed book for readers of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in WWII and South Africa.
This copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: October 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Copy from The Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson
“It’s hard to be a woman, child.”
Irma Joubert once again weaves an intricate tale of life in South Africa amid the political turmoil of the apartheid and WWII. Pérsomi Pieterse, a thin young girl raised on a dirt poor sharecropper’s farm in the veld of South Africa, values her education and her big brother, Gerbrand, above all else.
Pérsomi’s story unfolds as her beloved brother goes off to war, and she struggles to be able to continue her education. Before departing, Gerbrand discloses the fact that Pérsomi’s father is not really the father she has been raised to believe, much to her relief. This fact makes a fundamental difference in the outcome of Pérsomi’s education and life choices.
Follow Pérsomi’s journey to adulthood and her success as an attorney as she strives to lead a life that does not always conform to the beliefs of those around her. A woman of strong values and character, Pérsomi sets a fine example as a strong female role model during a time period when women were dominated by men.
The historical detail adds depth to the novel, and the incorporation of the politics of the apartheid offers an interesting intensity. The religious and ethnic prejudices encountered in this book are reminiscent of our own history in the United States at different times.
A very intriguing novel! This is not a light read, but the book is excellent for readers of historic fiction and anyone with a specific interest in South Africa.
This copy was received from Thomas Nelson’s Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: November 2015
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ARC Copy from Thomas Nelson and The Fiction Guild
The Girl from the Train is a very compelling story that begins in April, 1944 when 6 year old Gretl Schmidt drops from a transport train headed to Auschwitz. She is found by Jakob Kowlaski, a young Polish rebel, whose life will become intrinsically linked to hers over the course of the next fifteen years. Gretl’s family connections put her in a precarious position and force Jakob to lie about her background in order to keep her safe. Eventually Jakob must consider his family first and surrender Gretl to a German orphanage.
Gretl learns from an early age to contend with loss, suffering, and prejudice in order to survive. Jakob does the best he can given the situation under which he is operating to take care of the girl. He reads about a program in Germany where the orphans are sent to South Africa to be adopted. He preps Gretl with documents and stories that make it possible for Gretl to become part of the program.
The novel continues Gretl’s life story once she gets to South Africa in alternating chapters with Jakob’s story as he lives through the turmoil following the war and the onslaught of communism in Poland. The historical detail is very interesting, covering different aspects of World War II than many traditional historical novels. The religious and ethnic prejudices encountered in this novel are very vivid.
The personalities of the characters are complex and appealing. Gretl develops over the course of the novel from a scared, but strong six year old to an engaging, resilient young woman. Jakob, almost 14 years older than Gretl, gains maturity and insight into politics and the broader world as he survives the war, communism, and a loss of his home country.
This book has depth and emotion. The suffering, prejudice, and secrets keep the reader engaged. A fascinating book with great perspective! Outstanding novel for readers of historical fiction!
This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild challenge in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.