Karolina’s Twins by Ronald H. Balson – 320 pages
ARC from St. Martins Press and Ronald H. Balson
Lena Woodward, an elderly woman, enlists the help of both lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart to appraise the story of her harrowing past in Nazi occupied Poland. At the same time, Lena’s son Arthur presents her with a hefty lawsuit under the pretense of garnering her estate—and independence—for his own purposes. Where these stories intersect is through Lena’s dubious account of her life in war-torn Poland, and her sisterhood with a childhood friend named Karolina. Lena and Karolina struggled to live through the atrocity of the Holocaust, and at the same time harbored a courageous, yet mysterious secret of maternity that has troubled Lena throughout her adult life. In telling her story to Catherine and Liam, Lena not only exposes the realities of overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, she also comes to terms with her own connection to her dark past.
My Review: 4.5 stars
Karolina’s Twins is an incredible story of love and friendship during the Holocaust and WW2. Ronald Balson has done it again by using a modern day legal situation as a vehicle to bring this dramatic story from the holocaust to life. After I read his first novel, Once We Were Brothers, I started my review with, “Holy sleepless nights, Batman!” and I would say the same for this book except I read it one sitting. It moves very quickly.
Lena, the main protagonist, was a child living in Poland when Germany came to power. We hear Lena’s story, mostly in dialogue form, about her years from her youth to her current age as an 89-year-0ld woman. Her story is riveting, harrowing and truly remarkable with the good news being that at least the reader is assured of her survival. As far as Lena’s childhood friend, Karolina, and her twins, that’s the most suspenseful part of the book. The return of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart was a welcome treat as readers of his previous books have gotten to know them well.
She’s sharing her story to Catherine and Liam as she’s is in a desperate search for Karolina’s twins while her son is simultaneously suing her for her estate and claiming her mental state has diminished. They are all in a race against time. The legalities and court scenes are well drawn with no doubt due to the credibility the author brings as an active Chicago lawyer.
The novel is based on a real person that the author met. After hearing her account, he decided to create Lena in homage to her, and share her extraordinary story. This book can be read as a stand-alone novel however I highly recommend his previous two books, Once We Were Brothers and Saving Sophie.