The Orphan’s Tale – Pam Jenoff

4 stars

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Well what do you know – another historical fiction book based on WWII. Didn’t I tell you I would fall in love with Pam Jenoff after reading The Lost Girls of Paris?! Spoiler alert – I liked The Lost Girls of Paris better than The Orphan’s Tale but nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this unique take on historical fiction! *more on this to come below*

Set in the middle of Hitler’s dictatorship of Germany and the surrounding countries, The Orphan’s Tale tells the story of Noa and Astrid, two women who are both struggling to find their place in a stricken Germany, their home country. Joined together by stumbling upon work with the local traveling circus – one of the few luxuries the Nazis still allowed – both women must join forces to push each other one step closer to freedom. Each woman has her own secret: Noa, grieving the child taken from her simply because the father was a Nazi soldier and Astrid, a Jew married to a Nazi soldier who now finds shelter hidden among the circus animals.

Together, both women must navigate a world in which neither belong because of their past; a world unaccepting of their secrets and shadows of the past that follow them wherever they go. Together, they must promise one another they will go to whatever length to save the other. How much are they willing to risk when faced with the choice of freedom or imprisonment?

The Orphan’s Tale was such a different spin on WWII and I was very surprised to read that most of the story revolved around Noa, Astrid and their hidden lives within the traveling circus. There was not much focus on the actual war, although it was very obvious from the start that the war was the reason both women were in their current situations. While I have certainly read more captivating and emotional pieces about WWII, I absolutely love Jenoff’s writing style. She made me feel each character’s emotions; how deeply they loved one another, how fearful they were of their future, how ashamed they were of their past. The descriptive elements made this book a 4 star read for me because I was able to fully immerse myself into each of their lives.

To touch slightly on why I liked The Lost Girls of Paris better than this read: I found myself absolutely fascinated with female bomber pilots who risked everything to fill such a dangerous and barely recognized role in the war. This was an area I didn’t know much about regarding WWII and I learned so much along the way of reading the story. While I still very much so enjoyed The Orphan’s Tale, the takeaway was much stronger for me with Jenoff’s most recent book.

Although historical fiction reads about WWII center around arguably one of the world’s most tragic and emotional events, The Orphan’s Tale was a nice change of pace from your typical Nazi story. I enjoyed reading this from both women’s point of views and the journey the traveling circus took me on while nestled between the pages. Once again, I highly recommend this read if you enjoy historical fiction.

For my own sanity, I think it’s time to take a small hiatus from WWII reads – what do you think?! 🙂

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