Pam Jenoff’s latest WWII-era novel is set in Poland. In this moving book’s prologue, a woman in her 70s has traveled to Kraków and has summoned up the courage to speak to an elderly women in her 90s who she believes holds important information for her. The story then transports us back to wartime and the friendship that develops between Sadie Gault and Ella Stepanek.
In 1942, Sadie Gault and her parents have been forced out of their home to live in the Kraków Ghetto. Soon, the Nazis no longer seek to simply keep the area’s Jewish people isolated, they are now gathering men, women and children and sending them to work camps and ultimately concentration camps. By 1943, the Gault family has to flee. With the help of a Polish sewer worker, Sadie, her father and her now pregnant mother along with other families, are taken through the sewer tunnels to a location they can hide in. At the same time, Ella Stepanek, still mourning the loss of her father, lives in their affluent home with her stepmother who spends her time romancing SS officers. When Ella gets a glimpse of Sadie through a sewer grate while walking through town, they end up speaking and the two 19-year-old women eventually form a bond. How this chance encounter changes their lives makes for a very emotional story.
The events of WWII and the horrors of the Holocaust are well documented and new books set during this period are published continually. But The Woman with the Blue Star is a standout in that the circumstances are unique. It is incredible that a true story inspired it, although the book is pure fiction. I’ve enjoyed Pam Jenoff’s other novels and view her as an auto-read author. Her books are well-researched and extremely heartfelt.
Many thanks to Park Row for providing an advance copy.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: May 4, 2021.
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