Most of you already know what a lover of WWII writing I am. I had been looking at this little trade paperback for a couple years. A customer came into the store and raved about it, telling me that if I loved SARAH’S KEY, well, I would love this. Finally, I put it on my list for Christmas.
Louise Murphy is the author of this novel set in Poland during WWII. She has used the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel to move the story forward. It certainly gives the novel some pepper, makes it pop.
The story begins with father and step-mother of two small children riding along a road next to a deep forest in the countryside of Poland, not far from Warsaw. The year is 1943. The family is riding in a motorcycle with the kids in the sidecar. The woman whispers in her husband’s ear that they need to let the children off in the woods. If they don’t, they all will surely be caught by the gestapo and killed. The gestapo are hot on their trail. So, after agonizing over the decision, the father decides to do just that. They hustle the children into the woods and the woman tells them to run and use the names Hansel and Gretel, good Polish names. The adults then take off on the cycle until they run out of gas and ditch the machine. They take off into another part of the forest and carry on.
The way Murphy uses the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel to move the story along works extremely well. I was a bit concerned it would be too mystical, but not to worry. And she makes good use of her research as well.
Will the children be safe? What happens to the parents? You will keep turning the pages long into the night in your quest for answers.
I sure hope Miss Murphy is working on another novel.