Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Orphan's Tale, by Pam Jenoff - A BIG Winner!

I have now basically read 3 novels about circuses in recent years:  Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, and, now, The Orphan's Tale.  This one is clearly the best, IMHO.  My Goodreads friend and fellow blogger, Melissa (merrylandgirl.blogspot.com) recommended it.  And she is responsible for recommending to me Sarah Jio, Karma Brown, among others.  Plus, between the time Melissa strongly suggested TOT and the time I started reading it, I saw it crop up on a bunch of other blogsites, all with very high ratings.

And now, As the French would say, Le blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby.  She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep...  When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her.  And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid.  At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond.  But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another - or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

I really liked this book a whole lot.  Do you remember the beginning of Water for Elephants when Jacob is speaking as an old man?  Well that happens here too.  In the Prologue, the protagonist is 89 years old.  The entire rest of the book takes place in 1944, until the Epilogue.  When I finished the book, I did something that I can't remember doing before - I reread the Prologue.  It obviously made an impression on me.

In TOT, I realized, once again, that I really like stories that take place during WWII; especially when I learn something that I didn't know (as you might imagine, this happens pretty regularly!).  In this case, I learned about circuses in Europe (here, specifically Germany).  And about how some circuses actually hid Jews from the Germans.  As much as I liked The Nightingale, Salt to the Sea, Between Shades of Grey, and even All the Light We Cannot See, The Orphan's Tale gets the edge.  In fact, I'm thinking a 3.75/4.  But I might have to create the 1st 3.875/4.  I know that seems kind of ridiculous, but I do have a 3.625/4.  So, why not?  Let's do it.

I definitely ran the gamut of emotions in this one.  But besides the tears (some of them major), raised eyebrows, intakes of breath, chills, OMGs, and jaw drops, I also felt some major tension in certain spots.  This is not the kind of tension that you feel in a murder/espionage mystery, where the detective/undercover officer/CIA agent is chasing down the bad guy.  It's more tension that is actually worry.  You will know what I mean after you finish the book.

And speaking of finishing the book, make sure you read both the Author's Note and A Conversation with Pam Jenoff.  They will give you some very valuable insights into this period of time along with Pam's influences in writing the book.  How often do I tell you to do that?  Not often.  In this case, it's really important.

Make sure you get this one into your TBR pile.  And put it near the top.  I know you will be happy you did.






15 comments:

  1. Wonderful review! I'm so glad you loved it.

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    2. Thanks, Melissa. It was a great recommendation.

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    3. Always glad to recommend my favorites to friends who truly appreciate a great read.

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  2. Love your thoughts on this one, Lloyd. Adding it to my TBR list.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. You know, there are some you really like that you could see where others might not feel the same way. This is one that I think just about everybody would like.

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  3. What high praise! For some reason< I thought this was similar to The Orphan Train. I need to move it up my stacks.

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    1. Yeah. I think it might be worth skipping over a few.

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  4. What a marvelous post and review.

    The Orphan's Tale deserves very high praise. A favorite of mine so far this year.

    Thanks for sharing and for your wonderful post.

    Thanks also for coming by my blog earlier.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Beginnings

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. High praise coming from you!

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    2. You are so sweet...thanks.

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  5. I like WWII stories too and have read several of the ones you list here, but I now need to make time for this one. All the reviews I read have been great, including yours.

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    1. Yeah. You do need to read this one.

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    2. Laura, I'm not sure what the name of your blog is. Can you let me know please? Thanks.

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