Author: Kristin Harmel
Published by: Gallery Books on Jul. 21, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eBook, ARC
Source: Simon & Schuster Canada, NetGalley
Book Rating: 9/10
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.
An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.
Fascinating, heartwrenching, and exceptionally absorbing!
The Book of Lost Names is an evocative, beautifully written, touching tale set in France during WWII, as well present day, that takes you into the life of Eva Traube, a young Jewish woman who spent the majority of the war, to the detriment of herself and those she loved, using her artistic talents to help save as many lives as possible.
The prose is atmospheric, authentic, and insightful. The characters are vulnerable, brave, and strong. And the plot is a poignant tale of life, loss, love, deception, perseverance, survival, betrayal, sacrifice, courage, selflessness, the unimaginable horrors of war, and the important role of the Resistance in transporting people from the free zone in France to the safety of Switzerland.
Overall, The Book of Lost Names is a thought-provoking, immersive, moving tale by Harmel that does an incredible job of reminding us that millions of lives were lost, numerous aliases were given, but real names and true identities should never be forgotten.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.