Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Woman With The Blue Star blog tour! A huge thanks to Emer Flounders for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve enjoyed Pam Jenoff‘s writing in the past and I’m a fan of WWII historical fiction, so it was easy to make the decision to join the tour. And I’m definitely glad I did! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…
“Living in occupied Kraków, I felt like a pet bird, able to fly just the tiniest bit, but always mindful of being trapped in a cage.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Park Row in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I’m always on the look out for new WWII historical fiction as it’s a time period that I’ve been interested in ever since my first history lessons on the topic. Add that I’ve read and enjoyed Pam Jenoff’s writing in the past, and joining the blog tour for her newest story The Woman With The Blue Star was an easy choice… And I’m glad I did, because this turned out to be yet another excellent piece of WWII historical fiction.
The first thing that stands out for me is the setting in Kraków. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the city (as well as the Auschwitz camps) in 2018 and both had a big impact on me. The Old Town, the Rynek, the Barbican, the Wawel castle, the Jewish quarter… The descriptions in The Woman With The Blue Star really made the different sights come alive again and it was really easy to picture the characters walking the streets of Kraków. I could especially appreciate descriptions of occupied Kraków and what life was like for both Jews in hiding as well as other Poles during that time. It’s the focus on the ordinary and the day to day survival that took the story to the next level for me.
The story is mainly set in the past, although The Woman With The Blue Star both starts and ends in the present. I’m glad this story didn’t have a full blown dual timeline though, as I tend to prefer the past timeline in the first place and I feel that this story now gives us the best of both worlds. The story in occupied Kraków is told switching between two different POVs: the Jewish girl Sadie Gault and the rich Polish girl Ella Stepanek. Through their eyes we get to see how the occupation affects the Polish population in different ways, and especially Sadie’s chapters were both harrowing and heartbreaking. It was intriguing to see the two storylines connect and develop though, and my heart went out to both of them as they were fighting to survive.
The characters were easy to connect to and their development was both realistic and thorough. Sadie’s background and story might have a bigger impact, but it is the contrast to Ella’s situation that makes the story stand out and I liked how both their stories developed over time. Moments of hope and light are mixed with despair, danger and fear, and The Woman With The Blue Star most definitely isn’t a happy read. Then again, it’s not something you would suspect from WWII fiction in the first place… The writing itself is beautiful and managed to grab me from the very first chapter, and I really liked how everything wrapped up in the end.
In short, The Woman With The Blue Star is a beautifully rendered and harrowing piece of WWII fiction that will speak to fans of the genre. Recommended!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pam Jenoff is the author of several books of historical fiction, including the NYT bestseller The Orphan’s Tale. She holds a degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her JD from UPenn. Her novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and 3 children near Philadelphia, where she teaches law.