Today’s featured book is The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel. This was another of those books I wanted to keep reading; and yet wanted to reach the end to find out what happens.
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The Book Review
The Book of Lost Names
Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the international bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
A book that gave me all those warm fuzzy feelings and those teary eyed moments.
What I Loved
The title captured my interest first; even before I knew what it was about. The Book of Lost Names – does it not make you curious as to what it would be about? I certainly was – so count me in!
I certainly love reading historical fiction; and somehow have been drawn to books set in WWII more often than not. Those stories do tend to leave one feeling a bit heart-broken, a little inspired, often teary-eyed, and many a time wondering about humankind (the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of it). The Book of Lost Names does all of that, and does it effortlessly in page-turner fashion.
The Characters and Their Stories
The characters and their endearing, heart-warming, inspiring stories captured my attention and my heart; and without realizing it, I soon found myself at that ending, one that left me feeling all the feels.
From the very first page, to the ‘The End,’ I was swept up in Eva’s world; between present day Eva reclaiming herself, and the Eva of years ago working to ensure that those whose identities she forged could reclaim theirs someday. And of course, was also caught up in the ever present dangers; as well as that sweet yet impossible romance between courageous Eva and the sweet and brave Remy.
Every character in the book is fleshed out so well; I wanted to know more about what was happening to each of them as the story progressed; even Eva’s mom who got on my nerves a few times.
Of course, the history
Harmel weaves fact and fiction together seamlessly; and I love how she integrates the little known stories of the forgers in the resistance. The historical details further added to the richness of the story; and increased my interest in a book I was already heavily invested in!
And the rest
- The Author’s Note is a must read.
- And so many books/authors are mentioned throughout, including Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Jules Verne and more! What’s not to love about books within books?!
- I love that the book reminded me of other favorite reads; Anne Frank, Number the Stars, The Book Thief, and The Sound of Freedom, among others.
- And it also reminded me of sweet romance novels that leave you smiling.
- I appreciated how the ugly side of WWII was not glossed over, and yet balanced with a sensitivity to pull at heartstrings while not breaking your heart fully.
And as for quotes, there are simply too many, so I will let you read the book for yourself!!
Harmel has created wonderful characters, and then proceeded to spin together their stories – of love, sacrifice, of duty and of helping others in need first, of family, of the love of books, and last but, not the least, secret codes and math – into a book that will constantly tug at heartstrings, amaze and inspire as you read it; and then stay with you long after you close it
Perfect for readers who love women’s fiction, WWII fiction, historical fiction, or romance, or books about books; in short, perfect for readers!
Get It Here
Disclaimer: Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Would You Rather
Would you rather write secret messages in a numerical code or using a made up language?
I know this question is oh-so-offbeat!! As for me, I am unable to choose between these two as I do love both numerical codes and made up languages equally well!!
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, do you have any recommendations of books set in this time? Or books with similar themes? I would love to hear from you about those.