Happy Publication Day Lily Graham!
I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for this beautiful novel on its release date. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and to NetGalley and Bookouture for the eBook ARC.
‘She touched the photograph in its gilt frame that was always on her desk, of a young, thin woman with very short hair and a baby in her arms. She had one last story to tell. Theirs. And it began in hell on earth.’
It is 1942 and Eva Adami has boarded a train to Auschwitz. Barely able to breathe due to the press of bodies and exhausted from standing up for two days, she can think only of her longed-for reunion with her husband Michal, who was sent their six months earlier.
But when Eva arrives at Auschwitz, there is no sign of Michal and the stark reality of the camp comes crashing down upon her. As she lies heartbroken and shivering upon a thin mattress, her head shaved by rough hands, she hears a whisper. Her bunkmate, Sofie, is reaching out her hand.
As the days pass, the two women learn each other’s hopes and dreams – Eva’s is that she will find Michal alive in this terrible place, and Sofie’s is that she will be reunited with her son Tomas, over the border in an orphanage in Austria. Sofie sees the chance to engineer one last meeting between Eva and Michal and knows she must take it even if it means befriending the enemy.
But when Eva realises she is pregnant, she fears she has endangered both their lives. The women promise to protect each other’s children, should the worst occur. For they are determined to hold on to the last flower of hope in the shadows and degradation: their precious children, who they pray will live to tell their story when they no longer can.
A heart-breaking story of survival, where life or death relies on the smallest chance and happiness can be found in the darkest times. Fans of The Choice and The Tattooist of Auschwitz will fall in love with this beautiful novel.
The holocaust is a time in history I’ve always felt drawn to and I’ve read many books, both fact and fiction, about it. You know a book about this subject will always be emotional and this is no exception. Compelling, tender and poignant, this book swallowed me whole. I devoured it quickly, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. It is a story of strength and hope. Of finding light in the darkest times and the kindness that can be found in humanity even amongst the wretchedness and evil.
I hadn’t expected this to be a story mostly about the friendships between women in a death camp but it became my favourite aspect of the story. Seeing how they would help each other survive, offer comfort and words of encouragement was uplifting. Eva and Sofie had a true and loyal friendship and literally put their lives on the line for each other again and again. They were both someone I’d have wanted by my side in that situation and all the women in this book were strong, brave and inspirational. The author uses a past narrative to show us Eva and Sofie’s lives before the camp and show that they were just normal women living their lives until they were caught up in something unimaginable. The love story between Eva and Michal and the pain of Sofie’s separation from her son were vividly described in the flashbacks and made me root for them both to survive and be reunited with their loved ones. As I read I could never be completely sure which of the two women would become pregnant or how and when it would happen. I wondered how a child could possibly survive pregnancy inside a starving mother’s body, let alone the dangers of the camp, and was filled with dread even though we know from the opening pages that the child survives.
This is the first time I’ve read anything by this author but it won’t be the last as her writing was exquisite. I felt like I was transported to hell along with the characters via the author’s visceral and immersive prose that told the unvarnished truth of the holocaust. And though it made for difficult reading at times, it is told with sensitivity, with strands of hope woven through every page as we witness the endurance and resilience of the human spirit and how the miracle of a new life illuminates the darkness and despair.
All the characters in the book are well written and soon got under my skin. The author has a talent for evoking strong emotions towards the characters – be it love, sympathy, joy, despair, heartbreak or hatred. There were some formidable male characters, especially in Auschwitz, and the guards were the essence of the darkness, brutality and evil that lurks in the shadowy corners of humanity.
The Child of Auschwitz is a beautifully written, harrowing but hopeful story that I would highly recommend, especially if you’re someone who enjoys historical fiction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lily Graham grew up in South Africa, and is a former journalist. She lives now in the Suffolk coast with her husband and English bulldog, Fudge.
She is the author of six novels, published by Bookouture, including the bestselling, The Paris Secret and The Island Villa.
Her latest novel The Child of Auschwitz will be out in 2019.