The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck
Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2022 by Berkley Books
Genre: WWII, Historical Fiction
Taken from Goodreads: A poignant and ultimately triumphant novel based on the incredible true story of children who braved the formidable danger of guarded, wintry mountain passes in France to escape the Nazis, from the acclaimed author of Courage, My Love.
In a remote corner of France, Jewish refugee Ella Rosenthal has finally reached safety. It has been three years since she and her little sister, Hanni, left their parents to flee Nazi Germany, and they have been pursued and adrift in the chaos of war ever since. Now they shelter among one hundred other young refugees in a derelict castle overseen by the Swiss Red Cross.
Swiss volunteers Rösli Näf and Anne-Marie Piguet uphold a common mission: to protect children in peril. Rösli, a stubborn and resourceful nurse, directs the colony of Château de la Hille, and has created a thriving community against all odds. Anne-Marie, raised by Swiss foresters, becomes both caretaker and friend to the children, and she vows to do whatever is necessary to keep them safe.
However, when Germany invades southern France, safeguarding Jewish refugees becomes impossible. Château de la Hille faces unrelenting danger, and Rösli and Anne-Marie realize that the only way to protect the eldest of their charges is to smuggle them out of France. Relying on Rösli's fierce will and Anne-Marie's knowledge of secret mountain paths, they plot escape routes through vast Nazi-occupied territory to the distant border. Amid staggering risk, Ella and Hanni embark on a journey that, if successful, could change the course of their lives and grant them a future.
My Thoughts: Another amazing WWII book. I have read so many and learned so much. This one is told from a women’s POV as she lives in an orphanage that takes in children whose parents sent them away from the Germans to keep them safe. Both Ella and her sister, Hanni, have arrived safely at the orphanage that is run by Swiss volunteers.
The life of being an orphan is never easy, much less during WWII. The Germans do not care that these are children. In the German’s eyes they are jews and some have aged out of the Swiss protection. I was scared for Ella and the other older children as they were forced to hide, to make decisions that their young minds could not possibly make, and mostly to grow up so fast during a time when they should have been having fun.
The Winter Orphans is a story of young children who are living the worst of the war. These children are parentless, left alone in the world to stay alive. My heart broke for them but I was glad that they had volunteers who went above and beyond what was expected of them to keep them safe.
**Thank you Berkley for a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Meet Kristin Beck: Kristin Beck first learned about World War II from her grandmother, who served as a Canadian army nurse, fell in love with an American soldier in Belgium, and married him shortly after VE Day. Kristin thus grew up hearing stories about the war, and has been captivated by the often unsung roles of women in history ever since. A former teacher, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington and a Master’s in Teaching from Western Washington University. Kristin lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.