The Winter Orphans [Book Review] #HistoricalFiction @BerkleyPub

The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck

Based on true events and real people, The Winter Orphans is a gripping rescue story.

The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck (cover) Image: a young girl dressed in a red coat and wearing a hat carries a suitcase as she trudges through snowfall

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, WW11, Orphans, Siblings, Jewish, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of The Winter Orphans:

Thanks #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkelyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for a complimentary e ARC of #TheWinterOrphans upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Based on true events and real people, The Winter Orphans is a gripping rescue story. During the years of WW11, there are one hundred orphans of all ages sheltered in a rundown castle, Chateau de la Hille, run by the Swiss Red Cross. Rösli Näf and Anne-Marie Piguet are the Red Cross Volunteers whose mission includes safeguarding the children. As Germany invades Southern France, protecting the Jewish orphans becomes more difficult. The only way to protect the older ones is to smuggle them out of France.

My Thoughts:

Protecting Innocent Children

Is there a more noble cause than saving children from starvation and persecution, being their found family, feeding and loving them?

“Why do you call them your children:” he asked finally. “They’re not yours at all.” She frowned, thrown off. “Well, they shouldn’t be mine, should they? They all have families somewhere, and parents who loved them so dearly they tried to send them away to safety. They’ve been entrusted to me, and until they can be returned to their rightful homes, I will not let those parents down. I will protect them as my own.” She held his stare. “I will not leave.”

The Heroes

Rösli and Anne-Marie are heroes and were both named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem: Rösli in 1989 and Anne-Marie in 1990. In addition to their courage, determination, and sacrifice, each woman demonstrates a significant sense of morality. They were going to do the right thing for these orphans despite obstacles, setbacks, or risk. They saved many lives. Even in darkness, goodness can shine through.

Their Prayer

May it be your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace.” ~The Tefilat Haderech, the Traveler’s Prayer

Three Perspectives

The Winter Orphans is told from three unique perspectives: Rösli, a stubborn, wise, clever, and resourceful nurse; Anne-Marie, a caretaker who is younger than Rösli and raised by foresters which provides her with invaluable experience to plot and navigate escape routes over the mountain passes; and Ella, one of the older orphans, a Jewish refugee, responsible for her young sister.

These three well-drawn and inspiring characters kept me engaged and turning pages! I always enjoy reading about real life difference makers. The character of Ella is a composite and represents many real children who were orphaned during the Nazi occupation of Europe.

Themes

Important and thoughtful themes include survival, found family, escape, determination, doing the right thing despite consequences, bravery, taking risks, friendship, sibling loyalty, and caring for children.

Recommending The Winter Orphans

I’m enthusiastically recommending The Winter Orphans for fans of well-researched and well-written WW11 historical fiction, for readers who appreciate compelling stories of real women who are difference-makers, for those who love page-turning narratives, and for book clubs.

Related: This heartfelt story reminds me of The Book of Lost Names in which the main character is a forger who works with the Resistance in Southern France providing documents for children as they make their escape over the border and The Last Train to London in which a woman transports groups of at-risk Jewish children out of Nazi-controlled Europe by train.

My Rating:  5 Stars

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The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck (cover) Image: white text over the background picture of a young girl wearing a coat and hat and carrying a suitcase trudging through snowfall

More Information Here

Meet the Author of The Winter Orphans, Kristin Beck

Author of The Winter Orphans, Kristin Beck

Kristin Beck first learned about World War II from her grandmother, who served as a Canadian army nurse, fell in love with an American soldier in Belgium, and married him shortly after VE Day. Kristin thus grew up hearing stories about the war, and has been captivated by the often unsung roles of women in history ever since. A former teacher, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington and a Master’s in Teaching from Western Washington University. Kristin lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.



QOTD:

Is this riveting story on your TBR or have you read it?



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11 comments

  1. This sounds like such a wonderful story, Carol. I love books where bravery and compassion work together to rescue people, but especially children. Fantastic review. I am adding this one to my TBR list.

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