The Orphan’s Tale
By Pam Jenoff
3.5⭐️ Historical fiction based around the time of WWII is hard to “do” wrong. There are so many stories of perseverance, heartache, and heroism that books written about this period easily pull at our emotions. That being said, some writers definitely capture the raw truth and gravity of the conditions much more vividly than others.
The Orphan’s Tale is not such a book. It is not laden with scenes of the cruelty and horrors that took place during WWII, but there are just enough that you are acutely aware of how terrifying life was for people at this time.
The storyline is unique though, in that it tells of how Noa, a young Dutch girl who has rescued a Jewish infant from a train cattle car bound for a concentration camp, finds refuge in a German Circus. Here Noa meets Astrid, a beautiful trapeze artists. At first, the two struggle with each other, but soon learn that they need each other -– for both carry deep secrets and hurts. The traveling circus becomes a hiding place for many during this dark, tenuous time. But will it be enough for their survival?
I enjoyed the circus setting, it made it different from the many other WWII books I have read. The friendship Noa and Astrid form is heart-warming. But again, is this one of those gut- wrenching WWII stories? I would say no. Yet it is a reminder of the tenacity of the human spirit, the beauty of friendship and the importance of kindness. In the Author’s Note, I love the quote from Adolf Althoff (the owner of Circus Althoff, who during the war sheltered Jews), “We circus people see no difference between races or religion.”