Skip to main content

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

A vividly personal narration that toggles back and forth between two perspectives. Set in a travelling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale is a story of two women with their own harrowing stories, who come together amid times of despair and bond a mutual friendship. It is a story of the struggles within Nazi occupation, but set in a world that we normally would not see. The same struggles entail, the same story of survival, yet the characters and the circumstances are uniquely different. 

Astrid is a circus aerialist who was married to a German, but forced to leave him because he was an officer of The Third Reich, and forbidden to have a Jewish wife. She returns to Darmstadt, and has an arrangement to join the circus as an aerialist on the road at least for a year. 

Noa is a teenage runaway with a baby. When the circus takes Noa and baby Theo in, Astrid is forced to teach her the aerialist act in six weeks, so that she can travel with the circus as a performer. It seems an impossible task, but Astrid is anything but determined, and takes young Noa under her wing.

There is no time for sentimentality, and Astrid has her doubts whether Noa would be able to perform. Being technically good isn't just enough either. An aerialist has to have personality and flare, and leave the audience gasping with anticipation and wonder.

The majestic wonder of circus life, is juxtaposed beautifully against Nazi occupation. In the past, the circus has always been "like being inside a snow globe while the world continues outside". It has brought light to the places it visited, and now it's the only lifeline for Astrid and Noa, trying to hide their identity. And despite the walls thinning, their hopeful spirit, and fearless attitude to protect those they love, pushes them forward, trying to find a way to the other side.

Pam Jenoff has a way with words that draws us in almost immediately and takes us for a beautiful ride with her prose. Believable, unexpectedly refreshing, this is a novel that gives you another perspective of life in World War II. The Orphan’s Tale is written with an ethereal precision that walks the reader through the generation that lived through the horrors of World War II; it represents a tribute to the human spirit and provides more than a glimpse of the stories of the men and women who traversed through the period's horrors, reminding us that we must never again follow this totalitarian path.

BertoltBertolt by Jacques Goldstyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In life, you don't need a lot of friends. You only need one good friend who is by your side, day after day, through thick and thin. For one little boy, that best friend is Bertolt.

The book is charming, and the simple illustrative style embodies the innocence of the story. The narration is in first person, which makes it so heartwarming and does a beautiful job in tugging at your heartstrings.

What's incredible about this book is that even in it's simplicity it manages to pack in an abundance of themes, from imagination, independence, loss, sorrow and acceptance.

Full Review:

View all my reviews