Set during and after World War II, Gretl Schmidt, six years old, is the daughter of a German soldier with a Jewish grandmother. This Jewish relation drives her and family, firstly, to the ghetto, then aboard a train headed to Auschwitz, with her mother, grandmother, and sister. Gretl and her sister are pushed between the bars by her mother and grandmother to escape certain death.
At the same time, Jakób Kowalski, a Polish resistance fighter (against both the German and the Russian forces), is placing a bomb on the tracks to blow up a scheduled German troop transport. But an unscheduled train, headed for Auschwitz, comes through first, and is blown up by the bomb. All on board are killed. Gretl and her sister have escaped.
Gretl is taken into Jakób’s family’s crowded home. Jakób is a young man at this time. For three years, he and Gretl form a bond. Many secrets must be hidden from Jakób’s Catholic family. Gretl cannot stay with him though. Jakób places Gretl in a German orphanage where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families in South Africa. Once again, Gretl’s secrets must be kept, this time all alone—Jewish roots, Catholic education in Poland, and communist Poland.
Separated by years, continents, religion, language, even politics, it seems unlikely that Jakób and Gretl will ever see each other again. Yet, the human spirit and the human bond can overcome many hard circumstances.
Irma Joubert: International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. She’s the author of eight novels and is often on the bestseller lists in The Netherlands as well as her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels. She can be found on Facebook @ irmajoubertpage
My Honest Opinion
I loved so much of this story–the roots into just one segment of World War II, the hardships of the Jewish people, and the strength of the human spirit as they fight to survive alone, fighting to suppress enemies which dare to overtake them, and fighting to survive together. The story is filled with the beauty of relationships between young, old, and all ages in between. Families share the willingness to love beyond the circumstances, through trial and tribulation, through war and famine, through fear and secrecy. There are moments of sadness, survival, strength, and of pure joy, and unequivocal love.
Biblical truths weave their way clearly and profoundly throughout the book. I was glad and thankful to find each nugget as I read “The Girl From the Train.”
I love historical fiction. This book had a piece of history which I was unfamiliar with–the emigration of German war orphans to South Africa…Pretoria to be exact. It was a small group of 83 which went there in 1948. What this book lacked for me was more depth into the history of this event. Plus I would have liked a bit more history of the times in South Africa: What exactly was the “Catholic Threat” to the people in South Africa? Were the South African British just as closed to the Jewish, Catholics, and Polish as the Dutch/Afrikaaners? I would have liked more historical depth so that I did not have to look it up on the internet to find those extra details which I enjoy in a strong historical novel.
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and the book listed @ Thomas Nelson
Thank you to Thomas Nelson, a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., for this complimentary e-copy of “The Girl From The Train” by Irma Joubert through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a favorable review, but only to read this book in its entirety in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Publication date: 11/03/2015
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)