Publication date : February 21st, 2017
Publisher : Harlequin / MIRA
Genre : Adult | Historical Fiction
Page Count: 368
Synopsis : Seventeen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier during the occupation of her native Holland. Heartbroken over the loss of the baby she was forced to give up for adoption, she lives above a small German rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep.
When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants, unknown children ripped from their parents and headed for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the baby that was taken from her. In a moment that will change the course of her life, she steals one of the babies and flees into the snowy night, where she is rescued by a German circus.
The circus owner offers to teach Noa the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their unlikely friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything. (From Goodreads)
*I received an Arc of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
I’ve had this book for quite a few months now, waiting for the release date to get closer so that I could read it but then came December and it was still two months until the release and it has SNOW on the cover, I just felt in the right mood for it, being on a Historical fiction streak and all, so I read it. The most accurate word for me to describe this book is: Real. The stories, the feelings, the ending. Just, everything felt so real and raw and I absolutely loved that, albeit it ultimately crushed me.
There is no arguing it, the writing in this is beautiful. It is so simple yet hold a lot of emotion and meaning to it, weaving perfectly between 2 POVs that were so similar yet very different from each other. Just so you know, this is a slow book, but not in a bad way, it was a really nice change and just the pace it needed, though if you don’t like books like that you might not like this one because it tends to get pretty repetitive as the characters settle into a routine.
The Orphan’s Tale (which is a brilliant title for this book) starts with a prologue of which I didn’t see the added value at first, actually I didn’t see it throughout the whole novel, but then as I reached the epilogue everything made perfect sense and it was such a clever thing to do, starting the novel that way. The epilogue’s events come right after the prologue’s so it not only flows smoothly but it also ties the loose ends and gives each character an ending.
What first made me want to read this book is the circus element during the WWII period, it was such a unique concept and I expected it somehow to have some magic in the midst of all the horror (I don’t know how) BUT it wasn’t, it leaned more towards the technical aspects of the circus (especially the trapeze) as well as the general life in it, it being not as exciting as everyone expects to be. Which was as interesting in my opinion, there was a routine, some animosities, etc… What was most peculiar about the circus element, it that once people come to watch the show, time freezes and they forget about the war for a little while, it’s like it is the last thread of hope everyone hold on to. Even the performers.
As I said in the beginning, this is a heartbreaking story, as one is expected to be when it is set during WWII in France (and a bit of it in Germany). There is no light at the end of the tunnel, at least not for all characters, things get so brutal and harsh that some of the characters lose all hope and do some drastic things. And the worst of it is that it is inspired by real events, the author drew pilars of the story from things that happened to actual people, which she had found while doing her research. One last thing that I really appreciated about this book is that the author made sure to remind us that even in time of war people die of other things than the war, which I personally tend to forget because the war just consumes everything.
Now onto the characters. But to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable calling them that because they felt so much like real people that I literally felt uneasy saying they were characters. My brain works in weird ways. I know.
Noa is a 17 year old girl who is “perfect” by the Reich’s standard but after becoming pregnant she’s chassed out of her parents’ house and has to survive on her own. What first stricked me about her is how brave and tenacious she is, having trouble feeding herself and still saving a little baby from the Nazis’ claws. And as the story progresses, she only grows more mature and confident. The thing that bothered me in the whole book is how her romance with french guy Luc (whose name is Lucienne which is a french girl’s name, oups. Lucien would be the boy equivalent) was introduced, it was so rushed and felt so out of place especially when after only two meetings they confessed their love to each other.
Astrid is the older one. She’s a jewish woman in her late 30s whom the war hit hard, she lost everything because of it and the circus was her shelter. She is such a resilient woman and I truely admired her for all she was. She seems like a cold-hearted, harsh person at first but as the story progresses we get to know her and how big her heart is.Now, HER relationship with Peter I absolutely adored. Giving the precariousness of their situation, they lived in the moment because there was no future to be had in that period, which really showed in their interactions and intimate moments. It was passion mixed with fear and urgency.
I LOVED Astrid and Noa’s relationship. It was very improbable because of their rocky start as well as the age gap. They came to be friends, a family to each other and at the end everything they had left in the world. Astrid became like a mother figure to Noa, soothing her, chasticising her, baring with her endless amount of questions.
I truely loved this book and I would recommend it to any Historical Fiction lover like myself who wants to learn a little more about the WWII time period while diving into a well executed, unique premise.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read The Orphan’s Tale? If so, what did you think?
Did it break your heart as much as it did mine?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.