A Story Of Bravery During A Dark Time In History. @bakeandwrite Reviews #WW2 #Histfic Over The Hedge by @MahurinPaulette

Today’s team review is from Robbie. She blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading Over The Hedge by Paulette Mahurin

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When I saw the blurb of this book, I knew I had to read it. I am fascinated by books set during periods of war and am especially interested in how war impacts on the civilian populations in war torn countries.

Over the Hedge is a book that explores the horror of WWII and how the Nazi occupation impacted on the population of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It explores the psychology of various people and demonstrates how fear can tear societies apart and cause women fearing for the lives of their own children to perform the heinous act of handing Jewish relatives, including small babies, over to the Nazis, knowing they were destined for deportation to camps. I think this aspect of this book is closest to my heart as I consider the internal conflict of such women and wonder what I would do in a similar situation. I hope I would behave better than they did, but it eats at my mind.

The story centres around the true facts of a trio of members of the Dutch resistance who worked with other brave men and women to save 600 small children from the concentration camps. These three people from vastly different backgrounds were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, the principal of a Christian college.

Walter works for the Hollandsche Schouwburg deportation centre for Dutch Jews which is situated across the street from the daycare operated by Henriëtte. The Christian college is located next door to the day care. The Jewish families arriving at the deportation centre are separated from their children who are sent across the street to the day care for the night. Walter finds a way of altering the arrivals records of selected small children who are then smuggled ‘over the hedge’ to the college where they are taken, at great personal risk, by various students and other resistance members to Dutch families willing to care for these children. The author provides some details on a few of the children and the sad state they arrive in which makes the drama and emotion of the story much more intense.

One such child was Aviva, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl who is deaf and mute. This is a short extract:
“”Aviva …,” Johan let out a chuckle, “laughed.”
“Laughed? But she’s mute-“
“Yes. She’s quite expressive with bodily motions. Silent laughter, a new one on me. Kaat too.”
“Well, that’s good, she’s adjusting, but … it seems unusual she didn’t act fearful.”
“The affectionate dedication of a good mother can do wonders,” said Johan. “The mother must have been an extraordinarily loving women.”

Walter is a scared, worn-out shell of a man, whose own wife and daughter are in hiding in a Dutch resistance member household. He has to deal with the Nazis who are fearful of their own positions and lives and take their anger out on the Jews in the deportation centre, and later anywhere they find hidden Jews. Despite his own personal fear, Walter manages to bring some comfort to the Jewish mothers and fathers in the centre and ask their permission to help their babies. Walter lives for the babies he is able to help save. The strain on him in his untenable position as part of the conduit between life and death for the deportees wears him down over the course of the book, but Walter shows extraordinary determination and tenacity in helping save the children.

Henriëtte is also an extraordinary woman, who does a lot to uplift the spirits of the Jewish workers at the daycare and also Walter. She is a woman of excellent insight and is able to judge character when Walter’s abilities falter. Her kind and loving nature made her story all the more sad and poignant.

Johan was a brave man, who put himself at risk to help save others. I think this is the height of bravery; to act when you are afraid and do what you believe to be right. Without all three of these dedicated and selfless people, the 600 children who were passed ‘over the fence’ would have died.

Aside from Johan, there were many other Dutch people who contributed to the rescue operation and their actions gave me some comfort that even in the most terrible situations, the good in many people still comes to the fore and all is not lost because of it.

This is a very compelling story and is one that everyone should read to ensure that mankind remembers and takes steps to ensure this history is never repeated. Congratulations to the author on an excellent and well researched book.

Desc 1

During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.

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A Harrowing Tale Set in The Netherlands During #WW2. Sherry reviews Over The Hedge By Paulette Mahurin for #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sherry. She blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sherry has been reading Over The Hedge by Paulette Mahurin

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This one was hard to read for a number of reasons. The main one, of course, was the brutality of the subject matter. This book was harrowing and, often times, turned the reader’s stomach as to the behavior of human beings who took joy and pleasure in harming other humans. The Nazi regime created many monsters. The one question that will forever haunt me on the atrocities of the acts on Jewish people is, did the regime create these monsters or were so many already lurking in society and they were freed and allowed to run rampant based on there being no consequences (at least during those years when the evil was in power)?

The heroes and heroine of this true to life story were amazing and awe-inspiring. That two of them were Jewish themselves and risked it all to save children is admirable. They didn’t hide away, though who could have blamed them if they had? The fact they survived and made a difference as long as they did was remarkable. Henriette Pimental and Walter Suskind were truly angels on earth for the children they helped to escape and give a chance to live. Johan van Hulst, the professor who started it all, was also a brave man to not sit back and allow innocent lives to be destroyed. It’s terrible that they weren’t able to save more, but those they did save were reward enough. Every life that went on was a victory.

This was a tale that everyone needs to read even though the subject matter is tough.

The two faults I found with the book was it was hard to tell if it was a fictionalized version of facts or if it was a true and accurate telling of the actual events. The tale moved from almost reading like a text book to dialogue and dramatization. In places it was dry and then it would segue to an almost novel-like approach. The cover states it’s a novel, but it was hard to tell by the actual text. The other fault was the paragraph formatting. It may have just been in the ARC copy I have, but the formatting was disjointed throughout. Hanging sentences that joined up after an inserted return all through the copy made it hard to read properly.

I can’t say I enjoyed the book, but it definitely made an impression. The author did a good job in showing the reader just how awful and harrowing the residents of the Netherlands had it in WWII. What a terrible time and place for so many to have to endure. I’m sure it was hard for the author to write as it was definitely hard to read.

Desc 1

During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #NewRelease #WW2 THE SECRET STEALERS by @HealeyJane

The Secret StealersThe Secret Stealers by Jane Healey

4.5 stars

The Secret Stealers is a World War Two espionage story. It begins in Washington DC, where Anna Cavanaugh has been invited to work for Major General William Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic Services. This is the American version of the British Secret Service and Anna relishes her new responsibilities.

With her photographic memory and fluency in both French and German, Anna is keen to do more against the war which rages in Europe. She’s also worried about some friends whom she met in Paris when she lived there just before the war, so when an opportunity to be a secret agent is offered, with the purpose of discovering what the Germans are covertly working on, Anna leaps at the chance.

What follows is a thrilling spy story set against the background that surrounded the hardships and bravery of the French Resistance fighters. The narrative had plenty of grit and fear, which I expected to read in this genre, as Anna and those she worked with put themselves in great danger. Anna is a likeable character and I enjoyed her determination to fulfil all her roles.

I must say that I did begin the book with a few doubts because the war was going to be seen through the eyes of an American; I was worried that some of the real suffering and peril might have been glossed over. There were one or two stereotypes which might grate with some English readers. However, I wasn’t particularly bothered by them myself, because the rest of the story was very well written and my doubts were blown away.

So overall, this was a good piece of historical fiction and I would happy recommend it to those who enjoy stories set during the war.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

A female American spy in Nazi-occupied France finds purpose behind enemy lines in a novel of unparalleled danger, love, and daring by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Beantown Girls.

Anna Cavanaugh is a restless young widow and brilliant French teacher at a private school in Washington, DC. Everything changes when she’s recruited into the Office of Strategic Services by family friend and legendary WWI hero Major General William Donovan.

Donovan has faith in her—and in all his “glorious amateurs” who are becoming Anna’s fast friends: Maggie, Anna’s down-to-earth mentor; Irene, who’s struggling to find support from her husband for her clandestine life; and Julia, a cheerful OSS liaison. But the more Anna learns about the organization’s secret missions, the more she longs to be stationed abroad. Then comes the opportunity: go undercover as a spy in the French Resistance to help steal critical intelligence that could ultimately turn the tide of the war.

Dispatched behind enemy lines and in constant danger, Anna is filled with adrenaline, passion, and fear. She’s driven to make a difference—for her country and for herself. Whatever the risk, she’s willing to take it to help liberate France from the shadows of occupation and to free herself from the shadows of her former life.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #WW2 #HistoricalFiction THE LIFELINE by @swiftstory #TuesdayBookBlog

The Lifeline: A wartime saga set in Nazi-occupied Norway (World War Two Sagas)The Lifeline: A wartime saga set in Nazi-occupied Norway by Deborah Swift

4.5 stars

The Lifeline is a World War Two historical fiction. The story takes place during the 1942 occupation of Norway and follows the lives of two Norwegians: Jørgen Nystrøm a wireless transmitter for the Resistance and Astrid Dahl, a school teacher.

Early in the story Nystrøm becomes wanted by the Nazis and he goes on the run, hoping to get to England via the Shetland Islands. Meanwhile, Astrid turns into an agitator, refusing to follow the new Nazi teaching syllabus while inciting her fellow teachers to protest over the new teaching contracts. Her dissent lands her in trouble with the police and she is forced into hiding.

I liked this story, there was plenty of fear and terror which felt realistic. What went on in the schools and how the teachers tried to resist those changes was particularly interesting, as was the escape route via The Shetland islands, which was followed first by Nystrøm and later by Astrid.  I could easily imagine the horrors of the cross-country journey and the fear of reprisals by the Germans against Norwegians found helping refugees or those seen as criminals. The ‘Shetland Bus’ elements were also a first for me, as I had not heard of this before; the men who put their lives on the line each time they went out in the stormy seas were very brave.

I’m really glad that I read this story; it had all the gritty tension that I enjoy in this genre.

View all my reviews on Goodreads 

Book description

From the heart of Norway to Shetland in Scotland, one couple fight to overthrow the Nazis…

1942, Nazi-occupied Norway

Schoolteacher Astrid Dahl has always kept out of trouble. But when she is told to teach the fascist Nazi curriculum, she refuses and starts a teacher’s rebellion, persuading eight thousand teachers to go on strike.

The Germans arrest her, and terrified of what punishment her trial might bring, she is forced to go into hiding.

Astrid’s boyfriend, Jørgen Nystrøm, has joined the Norwegian Resistance. When his cover is blown he escapes to Shetland where he is taken on as crew for the Shetland Bus; a dangerous clandestine operation of small fishing boats that supply arms and intelligence to war-torn Norway.

In Shetland, hearing Astrid is in trouble, Jørgen sets off through enemy waters to meet her.

But the Nazis have a spy on Shetland and have been tipped off about the Shetland Bus.

With the enemy in pursuit from both directions, will Astrid and Jørgen be able to find each other?

Or will they be separated forever by the brutal Nazi regime?

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Rosie’s #BookReview of #WW2 #HistoricalFiction MADAM FIOCCA by Suzy Henderson

Madame FioccaMadame Fiocca by Suzy Henderson

3.5 stars

Madame Fiocca is a World War Two historical fiction based on the true story of Nancy Wake.

Nancy was born in New Zealand, but she lived in Australia. She left home at a young age and trained first as a nurse and then as a journalist. During the build up to the second world war, Nancy found work based in Paris. She met and married French industrialist Henri Fiocca and for a short time they lived together in Marseille.

Here Nancy supported the allies where she was part of important escape lines, then later towards the end of the war, in her Special Operations Executive role, she coordinated bands of local resistance fighters. Her bravery was recognised and she was awarded several war medals.

I enjoy reading stories based on the real lives of the brave men and women throughout history and I easily read the first half of this book in one sitting. However, I wasn’t so convinced by the second half of the book. I enjoyed the story of Nancy’s life but I didn’t get as much sense of the atmosphere as I did in the first part. I felt that the real fear and danger was missing from the narrative. So, overall, I liked Nancy’s story but some of its deliverance didn’t quite hit the spot for me.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

A gripping tale of love and espionage in Occupied France, based on true events.

February 1933: When her aunt gifts her two hundred pounds, twenty-year-old Nancy Wake embarks on a world cruise. Afterwards, she becomes a journalist and finds work in Paris. The city is glamorous, brimming with journalists, artists, and refugees.

While travelling across Europe on assignments, she catches the eye of wealthy industrialist Henri Fiocca, and destiny intervenes.

But as clouds of war swarm over Europe, German troops are on the march. Horrified when she witnesses Nazis whipping Jews on Vienna’s streets, Nancy vows to stop them if she ever has the chance.

When Paris falls, an encounter with a British officer draws her into the heart of an escape network. Soon she is caught in a deadly game of espionage.

As the iron fist of the enemy tightens, Nancy and Henri face a heart-breaking decision.

What happens when doing right is the road to ruin?

A must-read gripping adventure based on the true story of Nancy Wake, Gestapo’s most wanted in World War Two France.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #WW2 resistance-themed drama Never Say Goodbye by Hilary Green

Never Say GoodbyeNever Say Goodbye by Hilary Green

4 stars

Never Say Goodbye is a war-time drama. It is the story of secret agent Diana Stevens, known as Steve, who was sent into eastern France. Her role was a messenger and coordinator of other established spies’ activities. She used her initiative to manage resistance members, organise parachute drops of arms, and to aid sabotaging of railway lines.

The writing style and attention to detail brought out a real sense of danger. I really enjoyed the time spent building Steve’s character and how the story unfolded. There was plenty of tension and atmosphere, and the situations in which Steve found herself felt realistic.

Eastern France is not an area I know, but I could picture the towns and the forests that Steve moved through. I thought the author did well with the minor characters too; at no time did I feel overwhelmed by their numbers. My only niggle was a change to some of the last few chapters when a main character from a previous novel had several chapters from her point of view; they just felt a bit awkward in this book.

Overall a very good World War Two resistance-themed story.

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Book description

Diana knows what she is getting herself into when she applies to become an agent for the Special Operations Executive. The training is demanding—sabotage, codes, hand-to-hand combat, parachute jumps. Soon she finds herself in a Lysander flying to France, where any mistake could mean capture, torture, or death, for her and for the innocent people of France.

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