Book Review: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
Set during the harrowing times of World War II, The Orphan's Tale tells the story of two women bought together in the direst of circumstances.
There's Noa, a young woman who is disowned by her family after falling pregnant to a German soldier at just 16 years old. Once she gives birth, her baby is taken away from her, so Noa works at a train station in exchange for food and a place to sleep.
And then we have Ingrid, a Jewish woman who comes from a circus family. Now divorced to a German SS soldier, she is left alone after their separation and returns home to find her family, but they are nowhere to be found. At a loss as to what to do, she visits Herr Nuehoff, owner of another circus, who offers her work as an aerialist with his company. She has no money, so accepts his proposition.
She changes her name to Astrid Sorello to protect her Jewish heritage, and to avoid being discovered by the Nazi's.
One day, Noa discovers a boxcar filled with abandoned infants and young children at the train station where she works.
Reminded of the loss of her own baby not long ago, she makes the decision to take one of the babies into her care, and runs away with him into the forest.
But without food and shelter, she doesn't make it far.
She is rescued by a man named Pete, who works at the circus where Astrid works. In fact, he is Astrid's new lover.
Astrid and Noa meet for the first time, and once Noa recovers, she and the baby are provided a place to stay. Noa is offered a job as an aerialist, and Astrid is to be her teacher.
Together over time, the two women form a relationship that offers hope when there is so little happiness, and a strong sisterly bond that each of them come to depend on during their darkest times.
I enjoyed reading The Orphan's Tale. The author has researched the history well, and it is evident in the story. I felt that she portrayed the circus life effectively.
I'm not sure why, but I did feel as though I didn't get to know the characters well enough, and thus didn't feel overly drawn to either of the female characters as much as I wanted to.
Having said that, it is still a beautiful novel that tugs at the heartstrings so it definitely gets points for that.
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Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of The Orphan's Tale in exchange for an honest review through Netgalley. I have not been paid for this review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.