Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT ACROSS GREAT DIVIDES by Monique Roy @MonWriter1

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs at

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Noelle has been reading Across Great Divides by Monique Roy


Book Review: Across Great Divides by Monique Roy

Across Great Divides chronicles the lives of a Jewish family living in Berlin – from before the beginning of World War II, through the rise of Nazism and the war itself and finally to their transplantation in another country with equal social dystrophy, South Africa. The subject is one of great poignancy and distress, and anyone, even those too young to know anything about the plight of the German Jews during that war, will be riveted by the story.

The book focuses on Jewish twins Eva and Inga and opens with a rich description of their lives in the sparkling society of Berlin. As Hitler and his Nazi party gradually subsume this society into their party, painful changes occur: their best friend, Trudy, becomes a member of the Hitler Youth and rejects them, Jewish friends lose their businesses, and their younger brother Max becomes a member of the underground resistance. It is Max who sees the ultimate danger for his family and after the devastation of Kristallnacht in 1938, finally manages to persuade his father, Oskar, a diamond merchant, to leave Germany. Oskar takes the diamonds from his store to pay for their escape, but before they leave a valuable family heirloom, a beautiful emerald and diamond necklace, is confiscated by the Nazis. This necklace will become a thread weaving in and out of their lives.

The family’s escape from Germany and then Europe is a tortuous path, filled with danger because it is hard for them to distinguish friends from enemies. Nevertheless, a series of brave and caring people help them – a nun, a countess, and a winegrower – to reach Rio de Janeiro. Because the life there is difficult and the diamond business corrupt, they make the decision to move again, this time to South Africa, another diamond market.

In South Africa, the twins especially see the terrible parallels between apartheid and the treatment of the Jews in Europe. Max becomes drawn into the anti-apartheid movement and the family hires a dirt-poor black woman, Zoe, who lives in a Cape Town slum with her daughter. Eventually Zoe and her daughter comes to live with them, and the family’s members try to shelter her from the evils of the race issues that affect them all.

While the family finally comes to terms with South African society, the reader senses there is more of their story to tell.

This story in and of itself is captivating and there is plenty of historically active detail. The difficulty I had was with the long pages of description and the fact the story was told in third person, which separated me from the feelings of the family members. I wanted deeply to identify with one family member and experience through that person’s eyes the tremendous events of that horrifying and tumultuous time.

Nevertheless, this book is an entertaining read and one that will teach younger readers a lot of history.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT ACROSS GREAT DIVIDES by Monique Roy @MonWriter1 #WW2

Today’s Team Review is from Terry, she blogs at

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Terry has been reading Across Great Divides by Monique Roy


Across Great Divides by Monique Roy

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

This is the story of Eva, a Jew living in Berlin, and her family. It starts in 1932/3, when Hitler first came to power, and moves on to the family’s escape to Antwerp, then to Rio, and their next move to South Africa.

It starts off well, describing teenage Eva’s life before the Nazis, and her initial fear of anti-semitism. However, it soon becomes more like a quite basic history book or newspaper article, told mostly from the point of view of a narrator, rather than the characters. With four years of enchroaching Nazi terrorism rushed through in a small percentage of the book, I didn’t get a sense of the build up of fear. We are told that Eva’s brother Max is the most fearful of the Nazis, and her father, Oskar holds the optimistic view that it will all blow over, but I felt that the family were used as occasional illustrations for what was happening, rather than them being the subject of the story. I imagine most people who choose to read the book will already know what happened during the 1930s and 1940s in Europe, and are looking for characters to become involved with, atmosphere and emotion, rather than factual information.

There are some interesting sections in the novel, such as information about the diamond trade in Antwerp and Eva’s friend Trudy’s experience working on the side of the Nazis in Ravensbruck, but with the huge subjects of the persecution of the Jews, daring escape in Nazi dominated Europe, and apartheid in South Africa, I felt it was far too short a novel; it’s only 223 Kindle pages long and I read it in an afternoon.

On the whole, the book was enjoyable enough to read (if ‘enjoyable’ is the right term, without trivialising the subject matter), but there was no time to become emotionally attached to the characters. It’s a terrific story, and I am aware that much of it is taken from real life; the author has all the material there, but just needs to work on the actual craft of storytelling.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Across Great Divides by Monique Roy @MonWriter1 #WW2

Today’s Team Review is from Alastair, he blogs at

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Alastair has been reading Across Great Divides by Monique Roy


Across Great Divides

By Monique Roy

`Dramatic family saga, set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany and WWII’

Star Rating: 4 out of 5


Right from the start you get a real sense of time and place in this book, which opens just as Hitler and the Nazis have come to power in Germany during the 1930s. Monique builds up the pace steadily, introducing the reader to Oskar, a diamond cutter and dealer, his wife Helene, plus his twin daughters Eva and Inge, and their brother Max. From the first few chapters you can feel the foreboding, as the Nazis gradually tighten their grip on political power and then Hitler’s long term plans for the Jews of Europe, are set in horrible, tragic motion.

I have to say that the first half of this book is gripping, beautifully paced and it draws the reader into the era of pre-war Germany extremely well. The historical details are all there, the dialogue rings true and even the descriptions of diamond grading, washing and cutting are spot on – I know, as I run a jewellers shop. Monique is a writer who paints a vivid, realistic world from the pages of the past and that takes skill and imagination, as well as research.

As the book unfolds, the awful sense of doom never leaves the reader’s mind. We all know – or should – what happened to the Jews in Europe as war broke out in September 1939, and then the German army swept across Belgium, France, Norway and many other countries in 1940-41.

The flight from Berlin to Antwerp, then from ruined, war-torn Belgium to France, Spain, Portugal and eventually Rio-de-Janeiro is a roller-coaster of emotions – you hold your breath with each page as you wonder if each member of Oskar’s family will survive. There’s also a blossoming love story, for both Eva and Inge, as an underground network of Jews, and decent people willing to assist, help them escape the concentration camps being constructed across Eastern Europe from `42 onwards.

For me, the book loses a little of its edge and excitement in the second half, but the conclusion to this historical family saga is expertly handled, and any reader who loves books like The Winds of War, Schindler’s List, or The Diary of Anne Frank, will love this epic tale of survival, family bonds, true love and forgiveness.

Alastair w

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