THE PLUM TREE by Ellen Marie Wiseman is a novel of the holocaust. You all know that I am a huge fan of this genre. However, recently, I told myself that I would limit the number of holocaust books I read this year. Of course that is when this fine novel showed up. As you can see by the amazing cover, it is not one I could easily pass up.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5DoALIyXGY
The year is 1938. Seventeen year-old Christine is living with her parents in a small village in Germany. She works in the household of a well-to-do Jewish family. And has fallen in love with their seventeen year-old son, Issac. She is young, very blonde, and beautiful. He is young, handsome, dark-haired, and Jewish. This is a toxic recipe for disaster and heartbreak.
The Gestapo has begun their crackdown on the Jewish people. Christine is no longer allowed to work for or visit Isaac’s family. But they find ways to meet. Like young people in love tend to do.
Just when I think I’ve read so much about the holocaust, heard all the travesty possible, along comes this new novel with more information. And what I love about this novel is that it is based on the story of the author’s family.
Lately, novels have emerged full of stories about the “other” German people. The ones who were neither Jew nor Natzi. How these people also suffered. Many were forced to fight when they just wanted peace. And their families gave up so much. So many starved to death. Many risked their lives to hide and save Jewish people from certain death. These brave men and women were the true heroes.
Of course Isaac’s family is sent packing; off to the camps. He with them. And Christine is devastated. Her father has been forced into service and is now somewhere in Russia fighting a losing battle. Meanwhile, her mother is left behind to fend for herself, her aged parents, and her four children.
Our Christine is no shrinking violet. She’s one of the strongest protagonists in history. What she takes on is monumental. And how she deals with it is too.
We find out just how someone who is not Jewish can be tossed into one of the camps. The name Dachau is enough to strike terror in anyone’s mind. But after reading this bold and enlightening story of horror and undying love, you will forever remember Dachau.
I’ve often wondered what kept prisoners alive. How could any soul survive the unspeakable atrocities that occurred in these camps? After reliving these events in book after book, I still do not think I could be strong enough to want to live. But somehow people did just that.
Wiseman gives us a look inside the camp. I felt like I was reading a memoir instead of a novel at this point. She has managed to show us how some German Gestapo were also forced into their positions, against their will. We find they were doing this in order to stay alive, knowing they too would have been thrown away into the camps. Hitler ruled with an iron fist and a tortured mind. And was feared by one and all.
THE PLUM TREE caught my attention by its lovely cover. Then it kept my attention with a page-turning story full of beloved characters and really good writing.
My advanced copy came from the publishing house of Kensington. I usually associate them with romance, but don’t let that fool you. This if far more than just romance. Thanks Kensington.