Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: MIRA (February 21, 2017)
A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival
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 read this novel in a headlong rush, transported by the relationship between two vastly different women during World War II: a Jewish circus aerialist and a teenage runaway with a baby. Deftly juggling secrets, lies, treachery, and passion, Pam Jenoff vividly brings to life the agonizing choices and life-or-death consequences for a hardy band of travelers under Nazi occupation.”—Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train
“Readers who enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants will embrace this novel.”--Library Journal
“In prose that is beautiful, ethereal, and poignant, The Orphan’s Tale is a novel you won’t be able to put down.”--Bustle
“A gripping story about the power of friendship to save and redeem even in the darkest of circumstances, The Orphan’s Tale sheds light on one of the most colorful and inspiring stories of heroism in Nazi Germany. This is a book not to be missed.”--Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife
“Jenoff expertly performs a pirouetting tale worthy of a standing ovation. A circus of hidden Jews, a powerful friendship, The Orphan’s Tale proves that the human spirit defies hate, fear, and gravity with a triumphant ta-da!”--Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children
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Noa has been cast out of her parents house at sixteen after becoming pregnant with a Nazi soldier's baby. After the baby is born with a darker complexion than her perfect Aryan features, the baby is taken from her. Noa finds work at a train station where she must watch people come through on their way to concentration camps. One winter's day, a boxcar full of babies comes into the station. Most of them are already gone-except one. Noa risks everything in taking a baby that looks so much like the one taken from her. She escapes into the woods where she is found and taken in by a German circus. Herr Neuhoff's circus is struggling during the war, but still performing. He has already taken in Ingrid-now Astrid- a Jewish circus performer who had been cast out by her Nazi husband. Astrid is a trapeze artist and Herr Neuhoff thinks Noa could learn to perform with her so their act can continue. Astrid and Noa have a rocky start, but Noa has found a safe place for herself and the baby, so she is determined to make things work.
I was immediately drawn in by the idea of the circus during World War II. It seems so contradictory, however, was probably a bright spot for many people during this time. Noa and Astrid are both amazing characters that are bases are real stories from the time. Their stories elicited compassion, friendship, joy, and heartbreak as the two women find their places. As Astrid and Noa grow closer, they find more in their similarities than differences and create their own family. Another part of the book that I enjoyed as much as learning about another facet of World War II was the circus lifestyle. I loved learning about the trapeze and Noa's strength made me want to try it out myself. Also, Peter the clown seeming amazing and I wish that I could see his act today. I do wish that the story would have extended more into baby Theo's life, however the epilogue helps the with that. Overall, an engaging, memorable and heartbreaking story about a different aspect of life during World War II.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.
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