October 3, 2019
“When all seems lost, God can make a way forward.”
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Christian, Warsaw
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1939 Warsaw is the setting for this harrowing, heartfelt, and inspirational WW11 tale of survival, courage, loss, hope, risk, and faith. Sophie works in the city library, and her husband, Janek, is deployed with the Polish Air Force. When the Germans invade Warsaw in 1939 and streets become a dangerous war zone, Sophie feels compelled to help friends and strangers. Rosa and Itzhak are pregnant with their first child when they seek shelter in the Jewish ghetto. When Itzhak leaves her to check on the safety of his family, Rosa faces the horrific possibility of sending their small child into hiding to save her life, but first Rosa cuts a medallion (the Jewish Tree of Life) in half and places half around her young daughter’s neck. She prays that this will be enough to reunite them after the war.
We follow the lives of these two memorable couples whose worlds are torn apart and, in post-war years, connected by a shared love for a young daughter.
Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars
Characters: The Medallion is an engaging, heartfelt, and well-told story with memorable characters. I was right there with them in their prayers, their fear, and their every loss. Through them, I felt the uncertainty and pain, the anger and the sadness. Some of the characters represent the real Catholic social workers who worked to develop a network to rescue children during the war.
Themes: Courage, sacrifice, hope, determination, risk, and survival are prevalent themes in WW11 historical fiction. In addition, two of the outstanding themes in this story are the risks taken to care for children during the worst of war and how faith (Jewish and Christian) is a practical and important part of their every day lives. We see again and again in the story how they prayed and God made a way. Forgiveness and reconciliation show up in the end.
Plot and Pace: The Medallion is a page-turner and filled with suspenseful moments. The sacrifice of one woman who gives up her child to save her life and the story of another woman who risks everything to take care of the child are powerfully conveyed. I felt the circumstances that brought the characters together at the story’s end were a bit too coincidental and contrived, but the emotional storyline helped me overlook that. The end of the story has similar vibes to The Light Between Oceans but has a more hopeful, heartwarming, and satisfactory ending.
Author’s Note: Don’t miss the author’s note where she explains which historical facts are the foundation for this story.
Recommended: I highly recommend The Medallion for WW11 histfic fans, for readers who appreciate a compelling story told from a spiritual point of view, for those who love inspirational characters, and for book clubs. In light of the driving forces of hate and evil during WW11, it’s important to remember the inspirational stories, hope, and love.
Content warnings: the expected WW11 atrocities and grief, families separated
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Meet the Author, Cathy Gohlke
Cathy Gohlke is the three-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels The Medallion, Until We Find Home, Secrets She Kept (winner of the 2016 Carol and INSPY Awards), Saving Amelie (winner of the 2015 INSPY Award), Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award.
Cathy writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith.
When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren. Visit her website at http://www.cathygohlke.com and on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks
Will you add The Medallion to your TBR or have you already read it?
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Next week, I’ll have a review of
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell
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