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I found this book to be very compelling. An obscure fairy tale told against the backdrop of WWII Berlin. This is a version of beauty and the beast, but not the one we are so familiar with from Disney Studios. This is the tale told by the Brothers Grimm, where the heroine follows her beloved, who has been transformed into a lark, for seven years. At the end of the seven years she must outwit the witch who has put the spell on him in order to release her beloved from that spell.
Arva and Leo are the lovers, and the story begins on the night of broken glass when Jewish businesses, synagogues, and homes were broken into and destroyed. Arva is a beautiful girl, a singer who.lives with her father and two half sisters. They take in a Jewish family with whom they've been life-long friends because the Jews are not allowed to stay in their own home any longer. Arva and the family's son, Rupert, are essentially brother and sister. They both love music, especially American Jazz and Swing, which is illegal in Nazi Germany. This passion eventually gets them, especially Rupert, into serious trouble. Arva asks Leo, who is a German Army officer for help, even though she's not sure she can trust him. This is the basic premise of the story, and from that point we get taken deeper and deeper into the horrors and deprivations of that awful war.
It's a wonderful story, but very dark and viscerally wrenching in it's journey. It's interesting to note that all of the characters (With the exception of Arva and her family and friends.) and historical happenings are real people and actual events. The timeline is accurate, and I recognized several major and minor historical personages as I read.
This is literary fiction at its finest, and is NOT a story for the squeamish or easily disturbed. It details the horrors, madness, and brutality of war in a cold-blooded fashion. The author pulls no punches about those occurrences. But it's also a story of humanity at its finest and most loving. A story of undying love, of self-sacrifice, and the redemption we can only achieve through love. If you appreciate beautiful writing, outstanding narration, and characters you won't soon forget, I think you'll love this one.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
Based around the real events inside the Nazi machine, the numerous assasination plots and the number of near misses. Interesting events inside the Abwehr, the SS, Heidrich's assasination combined with struggles of those marked for death by the Nazis.. Highly recommend for historical fiction fans with a bit of background on WW2.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful