by Pam Jenoff
Genres: Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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
Make THE ORPHAN’S TALE by Pam Jenoff your next one-click. Grab your favorite comfort food (truffles), maybe a glass of wine and travel to WWII as we join the traveling circus train. I love fictional novels set against the backdrop of WWII. These stories inspired by historical events and people often showcase the heroes, and survivalist during the darkest of times.
The story told from two female perspectives is a powerful one. The first is Noa, a sixteen-year-old girl, who is kicked out of her home when her father discovers she has is expecting. We travel with Noa, weep when she is forced to give her baby away and work cleaning the railroad station. When a boxcar containing hundreds of Jewish infants stops on its way to the concentration camp, she spies a young baby who reminds her of the child she lost. Panicked, she snatches the baby and hides from the Nazi’s before flees into the woods. The weather is brutal, and both are poorly dressed.
Astrid is a Jewish trapeze artist who spent her life on the circus train, traveling from city to city to perform. When she married, she thought she had escaped that life, but the war soon has her separating from the man she loves and seeking safety in the only place she truly knows.
When Noa and the tiny baby are given refuge from the circus, she must work to earn their keep. Astrid is assigned to teach Noa the trapeze. Slowly though trust and confessions they build a powerful bond that readers will connect with. I soon found myself swept up in circus life, the dangers surrounding them and the risks they take.
THE ORPHAN’S TALE was well researched historically, and while Jenoff certainly took liberties, the circus train and its role during WWII is very real. This lent an authenticity to the story, shedding light on their role during the war. Her characters, the circus, the towns, checkpoints and more all carefully depicted the period. She shed light on the risks people took to help others, and the desperation Jews faced. Readers cannot help but become emotionally invested in these characters, to have their hearts race during inspections and to fear the worst. I held my breath, wiped tears and questioned again the why’s and how’s of this dark period.
The ending was both heartbreaking and rewarding. Jenoff’choice of setting for the ending and the way in which she tied up loose ends worked brilliantly.
THE ORPHAN’s TALE was a compelling story whose characters will stay with you long after the story has ended, I recommend this to everyone, young and old.
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Jess Fairday's Blog
I just added this to my list. It sounds fascinating. Lately, I have been reading a lot of books that take place during WWII. I look forward to checking out The Orphan’s Tale. Awesome cover! Great review!
Enjoy Jess 🙂
I haven’t heard about this book before. It sounds like a poignant and heartbreaking story. I don’t usually read books with WWII setting, but I’m intrigued. Amazing review, Kim!
Thank you Ksenia.
I”m a big WWII history buff, so this book is right down my alley! Thanks for the heads up! I’ll be getting this as soon as it’s available. I’m reading “The Zookeeper’s Wife” right now. It’s very good, but I liked “All the Light We Cannot See” and “The Book Thief” better. 🙂
I read Book Thief and actually have All the Light… in my tbr pile. I will check out Zookeeper’s Wife.
This was my WoW post last week. It sounds SO GOOD!!!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I’ve seen this one around, but I kind of glazed over it. Kind of wished I had not. But its the circus part that kind of freaks me out, and probably why I havent read a tone of books in that setting (even with glowing reviews) I guess, it’s a weird…hummm…discomfort, lets go with that.
Beautiful review. I didn’t realize it was that emotional.
I’ll look for it in the library, when I am not chicken
Don’t be shy, the circus aspect deals mainly with the trapeze during practice. The characters are the focal point.
yeah I am thinking about sinking my toes into it. Maybe when I get out of my book funk >.<
I’ve not read much historical fiction but anything happening during WWII I can guess is gonna make me tear up. Currently reading The book Thief and it’s killing me inside out!
Great review Kimba <33
Oh, I loved the Book Thief.
I’m loving it too but I’m crying so much!! And I’m kind of putting off reading the ending because i know what’s going to happen 🙁
I’ve had my eye on this one, Kim! This is going to break my heart, but those can be the best kind, right? 😉 Thank you for the wonderful review!
Exactly Michele, they stay with you.
It’s great to see this review because I am literally starting this book today!!
*hands you box of tissues and bar of chocolate*
The Bibliophile Babe
It sounds like a really powerful novel!
It was but follow it up with a rom-com.
I almost needed tissues just reading the review! I love that the women start as rivals and become friends, It’s nice to see a relationship between women in a competitive environment where they sound like they have each other’s backs. I’ve been wanting to read this author for awhile and this sounds amazing.
This was so well done Katherine. I connected, felt their fears and wept at the reminders of the horror these people endured.
Tyler H. Jolley
Kimba, your review was so engaging and thoughtful. I speaks volumes to the quality of this book. Thank you for putting this book on my radar.
I hope you try this Tyler, I am anxious to try more of her novels.
Five coffee cups! Congrats to the author!!
I am looking forward to trying more of her books. All are set during WWII.
I have read this author before and enjoyed her. I have gone back and forth on this one. Usually I am all about WWII books but I have struggled so much with my reading this past winter, I have to keep reaching for light and fluffy. I think I will put it on my list to read down the road.
Probably not my kind of book but I’ll definitely take some truffles. lol
Thanks for your great review. I loved The Orphan’s Tale, and it was granted my “favorite” for the month of January. This was my first book by Pam Jenoff, but now I will read more.
I almost didn’t pick the book, however, even though I love WWII era stories, because of the circus aspect. Not a fan of circuses! Well, I was pleasantly surprised by how important this backdrop was to the story…and ended up loving it a lot.
I feel you on the circus, but I do find these traveling train circuses quite interesting. Water for Elephants was another I enjoyed.
This sounds fascinating and grueling. I don’t know if I’m up for the tears but I will add it to my wl.
It was well done, and quite fascinating. Oh yeah tissues required.
This sounds like a great story. I am curious now, it sounds like a great friendship based on common grounds.
Yes, it was rough going until they found those common factors. It really was a powerful tale.
This sounds like an incredible story, Kimberly, and since I read The Nightingale recently, the subject matter here piques my interest. I have book club tonight and need to bring two suggestions for what we might read…this one just made my list. 🙂
Perfect book for book club Brandee!
I think this will be one I read because I love the WWII setting. Man, I’ll make sure I’ve got my tissue box handy. I can see this one wasn’t an easy read.
Oh yes, I agree you should add this to your tbr pile
Oh My God what a fabulous review Kim, you’ve taken me right into the story. I can’t wait to read my copy and I’m including your review on my showcase!
If you haven’t read her before she strictly writes about WWII try her past novels.
I saw that, and cannot wait to try more of her books. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This books sounds so good. I definitely need to read this. I love historical fiction stories that grab your attention. And books with strong female characters are even more my favorite.
Great review Kimberly!
I agree Maureen 🙂
I think I might have a book by her on my shelf
I was impressed and plan to read more.
oh what a setting to have a romance. hope baby is okay
Not a romance. You will have to read to discover if they all make it 🙂
Geybie's Book Blog
Wow.. a hystorical romance! This story reminds me of a movie I watched but I forget the title. Or is it a book? I don’t know. The only hystorical romance I read is The Bronze Horseman series and I loved it like crazy. Been wanting since to read another of this genre. I’ll definitely consider this one.
Great review, Kim. Awesome as always. I love how in depth your reviews always are. Thanks for sharing, Kim. 🙂
While there is some romance in this story, it isn’t really a romance Geybie. This is a story of two women trying to survive during the reign of Hitler and what happens to them.