By Melanie Dobson
This intriguing novel is set during 1938-1939 in Hallstatt, Austria just as Nazi Germany begins its occupation; and during modern times in a used book store in Ohio.
Max Dornbach has a heart for people and as the Nazis sweep into Austria, Max helps his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions at his family’s summer estate in the mountains. Annika is his childhood friend, and daughter of his family’s questionable caretaker. Annika has loved Max all of his life and would do anything to help him. Luzia Weiss is a talented violinist, and the object of Max’s affection. When he brings a distressed Luzia to the estate, Annika must make a life or death decision in order to stay true to her promise to help Max.
Fast forward 80 years to small town Ohio, where orphaned sisters Brie and Callie run a used book store passed down to them from the woman who took them in. When gifted a first edition copy of Bambi, Callie discovers handwritten cryptic lists written between the text, forever connecting her to Max, Annika, and Luzia’s story. As she digs into the past of ownerless treasures Callie’s tested and challenged to overcome her own fears, stepping outside of the safe haven she’s created for herself.
This is a time slip novel about good versus evil, love, hidden treasure, ordinary people doing extraordinary things, but ultimately about the love of a Father who is faithful even when evil abounds.
The descriptions of setting are vivid, and there’s a depth to each character that endears them to the reader. One can’t help but to grieve along with all that was lost during the Halocaust. The novel is sensitively written, challenging the reader to not forget what was a horrendous time in history.
I did not see the twist coming near the end of the novel in Annika, Luzia and Max’s story. It took me by surprise but was fitting of the characters. The question remains, do we love enough to do the same?
Callie’s story is beautifully connected to the mountains of Austria. I did foresee the ending of Callie’s happily ever after even before it really began, but it was still enjoyable to read her story. There’s a bit of mystery though as she follows a trail to find the mysterious ‘Annika Knopf’, original owner of her Bambi edition. Her story answers loose ends in Annika, Max and Luzia’s stories.
There are some intense moments (what holocaust novel doesn’t have them?) but more beautiful moments that leaves the reader thankful for those who love them.
I received an ecopy from the publisher through Net Galley. All opinions expressed are my own.