Searching For Gertrude is a romance set during World War Two.
Rudolf has loved the daughter of his Jewish neighbour for as long as he can remember, but one morning he wakes to discover her family are leaving, because of the dangers present in the country during that time. Gertrude’s father has lost his job at his German university, and he’s taking his family to Istanbul.
Devastated by the loss of his love, Rudolf vows to follow. But first he must finish his studies, and it is eight years before he can travel to Istanbul. When he arrives, his search for Gertrude is made harder as she hasn’t written to him for six years, and he doesn’t have her address.
Rosalyn, a young teacher from New York, is determined to help Jews escape from Europe. She begins by taking a job as a nanny to a Jewish family in Istanbul. Rudolf and Rosalyn meet by chance, in a park; Rudolf’s story touches Rosalyn deeply and she promises to help him find his girl.
The Istanbul setting for this war story gives it an interesting aspect; the author slips in historic details which were new to me. The chapters alternate between the two main characters, but at times there are some sprinkling of points of view from other characters, which made for confusing head-hopping. I would have enjoyed chapters being told solely from one point of view at a time. Mostly, the author uses an omnipotent narrator to tell the story, which kept me from empathising with the characters. I never felt the really deep emotions and motivation behind many of the actions.
Overall, I liked the historical setting, but there were missed opportunities to add tension, feelings and atmosphere.
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How far would you go to find the woman you love?
Nazi Germany. While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey.
Eight Years Later. As war rages in Europe, Rudolf arrives in Istanbul to search for Gertrude. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn.
As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.