I was surprised at the amount of research and labor that went into this novel. The back section of this novel has pages and pages of documented notes/bibliography and an extensive list of characters which I enjoyed looking at. The author acknowledges that she also had to use her own judgment in this novel and she lists some of the reasons why things didn’t fall into place, the author writes, “I have made a leap of inference based on my best judgment and larger knowledge of the period and the people about who I am writing.” I have to say, with all the documented information and her cast of individuals, this novel is fantastic. This time period is a sad, destructive period in our history but it is also an interesting time as stories like Irena’s have touched my heart and shaped me. If you talk amongst individuals you can usually find someone who has had a family member who had lived during this time period. You don’t even need to hear their voice to know their story, you just need to look at their face, their story is right there. My father-in-law was a POW, he walked across Germany and he liked to share his stories. I heard them over and over again, his voice would ask, “Have I told you the story of ….” and of course, I would say no.
As I read, I found that Irena she was a person who always, and I mean always was looking for opportunity and that opportunity was not for herself, it was for helping others. This woman was selfless; this woman was pushing the envelope for just one more thing that could be done, for she was a leader. She didn’t work alone, she was part of a vast network of individuals that she helped put together to help the children in Warsaw. When she saw a need, she worked to close it, even in the worst of times. Working in a welfare office, she soon built up a nice network of individuals that she could rely on to help her and who supported her cause. Her husband wanted her to concentrate on starting her own family but Irena’s eyes were focused on the children whose lives were being shattered by Hitler and his troops. I enjoyed how the novel transitioned around the events occurring in Warsaw during this time period, sights and sounds brought this time period to the forefront as the author provided vivid accounts and narratives. As Warsaw falls, Irena fights, her network builds in strength and the number of children she pulls to freedom grows. I could feel the urgency and vigor as their efforts intensifies, the desperation grows as time is of the essence as the city is crumbling, tempers are hot and the hunt is on to account for everyone. This is quite an impressive novel, there are many individuals inside it, too many for me to account for and their stories remarkable and moving. I highly recommend this novel for individuals who enjoy this time period or individuals who like to read about someone who is inspiring as Irena was truly someone who was generous and devoted to her cause.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest opinion.