Tag Archives: World War II

The Orphans Tale by Pam Jenoff. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

When Noa was 16 years old a German soldier wooed her into bed, resulting in a pregnancy for which her parents kicked her out of their house and their lives since the soldier was gone by the time she knew about the baby. She was sent to a girls’ home and the baby was taken away from her immediately after his birth.

Astrid, a 20 something-year-old Jewish woman from the Klemt family known widely around Europe for the Klemt Family Circus, married a German officer and lived happily with him for several years. Right until the day he came in with divorce papers because Hitler made it illegal to marry or be married to a Jew. Now a 37-year-old woman, Astrid travels back to her homeland, to find all of her family missing. Having been trained on the flying trapeze since she could barely walk, Herr Neuhoff offers her a position with his family’s circus, even though he knows the risks of harboring a Jew.

After her baby was taken Noa began cleaning a train station in exchange for a small room for sleeping and a bit of food. Hearing a strange noise, Noa found a rail car loaded with babies…no mothers, just babies, many of whom were already dead, some barely hanging on, and all would freeze to death within hours. Without actually thinking about the consequences Noa grabs one of the babies. Then, realizing the implications of what she has done, she runs away from the station and what little warmth and security it held for her and out into the snow-covered forest with only the clothes on her back and the baby. When she is later found close to death in the woods she’s taken in by Herr Neuhoff where she and Astrid meet.

Astrid, knowing that her new name and façade could fail at any moment, doesn’t take to Noah very well. Especially since she has to train her to perform on the trapeze in just 6 weeks. She sees her as a threat; Noa’s presence could lead the Schutzstaffel (SS) right back to Astrid. But as they live and work together they begin to form a bond that no one could have ever foreseen. Both have a life to save: For Astrid, it is her own, for Noah, it is the baby she named Theo and both will do whatever it takes to make sure neither life is endangered.

Get your tissues ready! This is a beautifully written story based on actual events in Germany during World War II. Pam Jenoff, a law professor who once worked with Holocaust survivors for the US State Department in Poland, found evidence of two major events, the “Unknown Children” and the Circus Althoff which protected several Jews during the war. She ingeniously melded the two stories together to create The Orphan’s Tale and the result is masterfully written and pays a great tribute to those involved in both circumstances.

Told from the alternating points of view of Astrid and Noa, we learn about their trials, struggles, greatest fears, and what it means to be a family during the most horrific of situations. This is actually a tale of three orphans who actually found love that knew no bounds.

Once you read this, Herr Neuhoff, Noah, Astrid, Peter, and Theo will stay with you long after the last page, as well they should. History, once forgotten, will be repeated. We must keep these stories alive so we never have to bear such atrocities again.

Book Details: 

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all. 



Also by Pam Jenoff:



Dunkirk. A Propensity to Discuss movie review.

Dunkirk (Movie Review)

Over the weekend, hubby and I went to see the movie Dunkirk, which I had not even known about until he mentioned going to see it. We aren’t big on going out to see movies, so I was a little shocked that he wanted to see this one. Having been a social studies education undergrad, I love historical books, movies, and tv shows, so I was all in.

First, let me say that it is ridiculous that it costs the two of us a little more than $50 to see a movie in a theater with popcorn and a drink. Good grief! This is the reason we don’t go to the movies all that often. However, if you plan to see Dunkirk, see it in an IMAX theater if at all possible. You feel like you are right there, with the unmatched definition and clarity of the screen and the sound system pulsing through your body, it adds so much to the experience!

Second, let me say that if you like history at all, you must go see this movie. It was really good. If you aren’t into history but you like war movies, this movie is a must see! If you like intense, non-stop action, go see this movie. Get up…go now! It’s that good!

This is quite an interestingly conceived movie, as there is no main character, just back and forth between different soldiers, boat captains, and officers. Reading that, you may think that there is no one to specifically name as the focus of the movie and that you will get lost trying to follow all of the different characters. You won’t. It is a simple and yet magnificently told depiction of the Dunkirk evacuation.

Dunkirk. A Propensity to Discuss movie review.

In case you don’t know (I didn’t), the Dunkirk evacuation, sometimes referred to as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied (British and French) soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, in northern France, between May 26 and June 4, 1940, during World War II. At the end of the first day, 7,669 men were evacuated, but by the end of the eighth day, 338,226 soldiers had been rescued by over 800 boats, the majority of those being the personal boats of fishermen and tradesmen from Great Britain.(1)

Dunkirk. A Propensity to Discuss movie review.

There is no real down time in this movie. It is non-stop action from about 3 minutes in until the final credits, so be prepared for about 103 minutes of being on the edge of your seat. Even though you know the outcome of more than 330,000 of these men, you are gripped with fear in a what will happen in every scene, one right after another, for the ENTIRE MOVIE!

It was written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. The cast stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy. Many of these men played Oscar worthy roles in this movie, and according to a Dunkirk historian, there are only minor discrepancies between the movie and the actual evacuation.

So, if you have a little time on your hands, and some extra money, head out to see this one. It truly is worth it!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

(1) Dunkirk evacuation. (2017, July 31). Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkirk_evacuation

Check out all the books, movies and TV shows I have reviewed on the blog by clicking this link:  https://propensitytodiscuss.wordpress.com/book-reviews-list/

This post may contain affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products!