by Kristin Harmel
Genres: Historical Fiction
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Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.
I enjoy historical fiction involving World War II, and The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel drew me in by its title. The tale Harmel treats us to was unputdownable. She shares the story of a young-woman who helped hundreds flee the Nazis.
The story shares two timelines. The first take us to Florida where we meet Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian. While re-shelving books, she glances down at a newspaper and sees a man holding a book. A book she hasn’t laid eyes on in nearly six decades…. the book of lost names.
Eva goes to Germany to retrieve the book and unlock its secrets. As she travels the reader is transported to 1942, Paris, where we meet Eva, a college student forced to flee Paris with her mother after her Jewish father is arrested by Hitler’s Nazis.
This was my first time reading Harmel and she transported me to Paris. As much as I wanted to savior the story, I found myself unable to set Eva’s story down and devoured it on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I laughed, cried, cheered, held my breath and was completely in awe of the characters we met. Twists and turns I never expected ripped me apart and pulled me together again.
The rich history and the efforts of the resistance in France were beautifully detailed. I found the forgery aspects fascinating, but it was the characters that were most memorable. Such brave men and women who risked everything to help so many.
Both past and present are told from the point of view of Eva. Her voice felt authentic and I connected with her. While we spend most of our time in the past, I understood the driving needs of Eva in the present.
I became swept up in the danger and the impossible romance. Even when I knew the outcome, I couldn’t stop myself from holding my breath and wishing for the impossible.
By the time I closed The Book of Lost Names, I was a hot mess. Teary-eyed and wrecked, I felt like the book claimed a piece of my soul … one I willingly gave.
Perfect for book clubs, or readers who love stories weaved with historical details and human endurance. I will not forget these characters.Eva's story from The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel is one that will stay with me. #HistoricalFiction #WWII #BookClub #NewRelease #MustRead Click To Tweet
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