Book Review: The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

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Everyone needs to hide the truth and reinvent himself in order to survive.

Based on true events during WWII, The Orphans Tale by Pam Jenoff ephasizes the lengths we go to protect one another and the resillience of the human spirit. The story begins with Ingrid, a Jewish woman, decendant of a circus ancestry, forced to divorce her husband, a Nazi soldier, and left to carry on alone. When she returns home to find her family gone she must reach out to the nearest and most familiar source of help- Herr Neuhoff and his rival circus troupe.

In my mind, the song of the carousel begins to play tinny and faint like a music box. I feel the searing heat of the lights, so hot it could almost  peel off my skin.

Ingrid, renowed for her talent as an aerialist, is willingly taken in, much to her surprise given the past between her father and Herr Neuhoff. However, she learns quickly that the bonds shared by fellow circus folk runs even deeper now that the Nazi threat is becoming reality. In an effort to provide protection, she is given a new identitiy, Astrid, and her Jewish heritage is secreted away.

The circus is a great equalizer, though; no matter class or race or background, we are all the same here, judged on our talent.

In a train station in another part of Germany, not far from where Circus Neuhoff resides, a teenage Dutch girl named Noa is struggling to exist on her own. Disowned and sent to a home for unwed mothers after it is discovered that she became pregenant by the German soldier that was billeted to their home, Noa still feels the weight of the baby that was taken from her and promised a better life. Or so she hopes. When she stumbles upon a train car full of squalling infants left to die she wonders if her child could be among them. The descisions she makes in that moment will change her life forever.

What follows is a harrowing account of two women and their desparate attempt to survive the unfortunate circumstane of WWII. The circus becomes a haven and a provides solace in the shared drama of performance- a temporary escape from the harsh reality. Unlikely bonds are formed and strengthened by unexpected similarities but will they withstand the heartbreak and danger that is everpresent in Nazi-occupied Europe?

But we represent everything Hitler hates: the freaks and oddities in a regime that is all about conformity.

Read voraciously.

Intrigued? Buy  the book here:

The Orphan’s Tale
by B, A. L. O.Trade Paperback
Powells.com

A review copy of this title was provided by Harlequin via Netgalley.

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10 Books to Read in 2017- via BBC Books

Check out the 10 bet books of 2017 according to BBC Books. I thoroughly loved a couple of these. Which one(s) were your favorite?

Read voraciously.

10 Books to read this month- via BBC Books

Ten books to read in March! I’m a little sad to say that NONE of these made their way on my review pile this month :(. They all look so great. Have you read any of these?

Read voraciously.

Podcast: Book Club Appetizer with Jennifer Ryan author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir- via Read It Forward

The clever podcast by two Read It Forward contributors features an appetizer and cocktail pairing to go with the plot of the title as well as an exclusive interview with Jennifer Ryan, author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.

Read voraciously

Explore the Setting of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir- via Read It Forward

Author Jennifer Ryan takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the setting for her novel The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. Check out my review which just published Monday 🙂

Read voraciously.

 

Book Review: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

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But with a cautious smile, I realized that there are no laws against singing, and I found my voice becoming louder, in defiance of this war. In defiance of my right to be heard.

It all starts with a posting nailed to the door of the church. WWII is underway and all the men have reported for duty.  But that won’t stop the ladies of Chilbury.

“All the men have gone,” I whispered back, aware of our voices carrying uncomfortably through the funeral crowd. “The Vicar says we can’t have a choir without men.”

Through the personal journal entries of Mrs. Tilling, a widowed nurse with a son at the front, and Kitty Winthrop, the youngest daughter of the wealthy Brigadier, and the letters of Edwina Paltry, an immoral, scheming midwife, and Venetia Winthrop, the flirtatious eldest daughter of the Brigadier, we see a gentler side of war. The women are left to cope in a village stripped of it’s men- their fathers, husbands and brothers. They experience a seismic shift in their daily life and with that they gain a newfound boldness.

I felt like clearing my throat and telling her that she was wrong, and before I knew it, I was saying out loud, “Maybe we’ve been told that women can’t do things so many times that we’ve actually started to believe it. In any case, the natural order of things has been temporarily changed because there are no men around.” I glanced around for inspiration.

Throwing convention to the wind, they reinstate the Chilbury Choir under a new name, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, with a renewed sense of purpose. In a time of uncertainty, these women band together and form a support system of the utmost importance.

The volume swelled with passion and deliberation as we poured our emotions into every darkened corner of the church. Every dusty cloister and crevice reverberated, reaching a crescendo in the final chorus, a vocal unison of thirteen villagers that cold, still night, pouring out our longings, our anxieties, our deepest fears.

Each narrative shines with the personality of the character that pens it and we begin to see to the heart of the village, which for some may be less than honorable. A crime, a bribe, and a potential Nazi spy add a bit of color to the events in Chilbury proving the saying that ‘it takes all sorts’. In tandem, new friendships and romances are forged, shining a bright light during a dark time.

“Music is about passion. It’s about humanity. We need to bring our own passions to our voices.” She wound her baton thoughtfully through the air. “We have to imbue every note, every word, with our own stories. Think of what our members can bring: Kitty’s exuberance, Silvie’s courage, Mrs. Quail’s joviality, Hattie’s gentleness, Mrs. Tilling’s diligence. Even you, Mrs. B., bring a gusto and verve to our singing. Every joy, every pain we are feeling from this war will be put to use in our music.”

When the reality of war comes to England, to the front doors of Chilbury, the women are forced to dig even deeper within themselves to ensure the safety of their homes. They lean heavily on each other where they find strength and courage.

And a new dread crept into our singing, as if we were singing for them, for everyone who had lost someone, or could. By the time we reached the powerful chords toward the end, we were almost crying with our song, louder, more raucous than before, until the final Amen, when we all stood together, firm in the power of our choir to face this war together.

All at once charming and sorrowful, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is an inspiring tale about strength of character and the fierce spirit of women.

Perhaps there is something good that has come from this war: everything has been turned around, all the unfairness made grimly plain. It has given us everyday women a voice— dared us to stand up for ourselves, and to stand up for others.

Read voraciously.

Intrigued? Buy the book here:

Chilbury Ladies Choir


by Jennifer RyanHardcover

Powells.com

 

A review copy of this title was provided by Crown Publishing via Netgalley.

Preview: Netgalley shelf for April and May

Here’s a quick preview of my Netgalley TBR! I’m am currently reading Book One of the Themis Files Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neufeld in preparation to read and review Book Two Waking Gods. So far I am loving it! 

I have a few awesome reviews publishing this month. Here’s a peek:

Monday March 13th 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan 

Monday March 20th

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker 

Monday March 27th 

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff 

Have you read any of these? I’m looking forward to then immensely. 

Read voraciously.