The Girl From The Train by Irma Joubert – 370 pages
As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.
Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family. Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.
My Review: 5 stars
The Girl From The Train (not to be confused with The Girl On The Train) was one of my faves for 2015. This is the first book from this bestselling author to be translated and sold in the United States.
This story was a perfect history lesson wrapped up in a romance. I learned so much about Poland and Russia during WW2. I was reminded of the vague, yet important differences between Catholics and Protestants. I was shocked at the ignorance of so many Germans regarding the Holocaust. I was swept into the lives of these memorable characters and their relationships. Basically, I was taken for a beautiful literary ride.
The reader will notice some vernacular mishaps that come along with the translation of this book from Afrikaans to English. It actually made this reading experience more endearing and more relatable to be amongst the characters in foreign lands.
Quotes I liked:
Her words were round, like pebbles, her voice the water of a deep, quiet river.”
– “In time buried hurt becomes an abscess.”
– “But true love is the core that remains after the infatuation has burned out.”
– “You know Grietjie, life is like a silver coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you can only spend it once.”
– “She read her own emotion in his eyes—the G-d given desire between a man and a woman.”