Published by Atria Books on May 7, 2019
Source: the publisher
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Berlin, 1939. Bookseller Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, dreamed of blissful summers spent by the lake at Wannsee and unlimited opportunities for their children. But that all falls apart when the family bookshop is destroyed and Julius is sent to a concentration camp. Now, desperate to flee Nazi Germany and preserve what’s left of her family, Amanda heads toward the south of France with her two young daughters—only to arrive with one. In Haute-Vienne, their freedom is short-lived, and soon she and her eldest daughter are forced into a labor camp, where Amanda must once again make an impossible sacrifice.
New York City, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.
Based on true events, The Daughter’s Tale chronicles one of the most harrowing atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II. Heartbreaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Sometimes it seems like there are a ton of World War II books out there, so I’m a bit selective when I choose which ones I want to read. The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa stood out to me because of the cover (so pretty!) and because it featured a family fractured by war, brought together years later. I love stories that have separate time plots or alternating time plots. A portion of this story takes place in New York in 2015 and it is emotional, yes. But I think I enjoyed the bulk of the story most, which took place during the end of the 1930’s and the 1940’s in parts of Europe during wartime, because this is when I was able to get to know the characters and their motivations the best.
I think I connected most with Amanda, the mother in this story. Amanda faces one of the most horrific decisions that I could ever imagine: she has to choose what to do with her two young girls as Jewish people living during the German invasion. Amanda’s husband has been taken to a concentration camp, leaving her very specific instructions for what she is to do with herself and the girls if an event like this should occur. The way Amanda receives Julius’ instructions gripped my heart and made me feel things. Her reaction to this news and her inability to have any sort of discussion with her husband whatsoever because of his imprisonment just tore at me. And then what she actually did made me feel all kinds of things: Amanda followed Julius’ wishes mostly. Sort of. I mean, it was clearly very hard for her to execute his plan, and in the end, she altered it quite a bit. And ultimately, there was a price to pay.
Amanda went to the greatest of lengths to fix things. She did everything in her power to save her daughters. We know going into the book (because of the synopsis) that Amanda also ends up imprisoned, so anything above and beyond just regular survival mode had to have been harrowing and beyond difficult. I was able to connect with her because I am also a wife and a mother, and I think that I saw a resilience and determination and strength in her that I’m not sure that I possess. I hope I never am tried in the way that she was.
Mr. Correa did a great job showing us this process of tearing apart and the potential reuniting of a portion of a family. He did a great job of showing how many years this process took, and the toll it took on the survivors. I love the way we were able to get into the heads of the survivors during the 2015-timeline, to really see how they had worked to distance themselves from the horrors and realities of that childhood. How reuniting meant such wonderful things, but with that there was also the pain of dredging up so much loss. This story is heartbreaking and so very good.
Man, I wish I had had this on audiobook to listen to while I was reading it in print because I believe Cassandra Campbell narrates it and I love it when she reads audiobooks. As it turns out, I read this book while I was staying in the hospital with a family member and even though the subject matter (WWII, the holocaust) tends to be heavy, the fact that I was able to become emotionally invested with these characters-but not to a painful degree-meant that it was a read that left an imprint…but I was also able to easily fulfill my obligations to my family. I also was able to learn a little but that I didn’t know before. I didn’t realize that people escaped Europe on ships bound for Cuba-I mean, it makes complete sense because America certainly isn’t the only place people would want to go. But this just isn’t something that I’ve considered before and I don’t remember my WWII education being specific to these types of details. I love the way this is written into the story.