- Written by: Pam Jenoff
- Published by: MIRA, an imprint of Harlequin Books, February 21, 2017
- Length: 342 pages
- Source: Finished copy given to me by publisher in return for an honest review
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn 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 friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.
While it took me much longer to get into this book than expected, I’ve come to realize timing is everything and when it was right I read this book in three days, not wanting to put it down.
I can’t imagine the thousands of stories that there are to tell of the people who lived during WWII, fleeing Germany, the Nazis. They might be Jews, or not, but they had various reasons for fleeing the unbelievable acts of the Reich. The story that Pam Jenoff weaves is based on facts of the time. Pulled together into one amazing tale, these women, Noa and Astrid will not soon leave my heart. Sweet and young Noa, outcast by her family for a moment of love with a German soldier, her pregnancy a shame for them. The discovery of the abandoned boxcar of Jewish babies is unimaginable. That Noa attempted to take even one child is beyond brave.
Astrid is an aerialist, a circus performer by birth, she is also Jewish. Her family’s once thriving circus was halted by the Nazis and they are now missing. The nearby circus takes her in, hiding her in plain sight really. She performs and trains others in her art.
These women, and the infant Theo become a force, bound by a sense of survival, this novel tells the story of the growth of their friendship and love.
The words just flow in this book, I could envision the train that took them from their winter home in Germany to a small town in France, the cramped quarters, the living conditions barely inhabitable. Food scarce, like most of Europe during the war. The sights of Astrid flying through the air, and young Noa learning the flying trapeze. This is not really a story of circus, but those elements are a visual part that is so integral to the story.
Thank you to MIRA and Emer Flounders for the opportunity to read this book. I met Pam Jenoff during her book tour, and while she had lost her voice she was able to talk to me about her former work in Poland. Her own work experience has given her so much to draw on in the books she writes. I highly recommend THE ORPHAN’S TALE. I loved it so very much.