book review · France · Germany · historical fiction · WWII

Book Review – The Daughter’s Tale

The Daughter’s Tale

by Armando Lucas Correa

The Daughter’s Tale is immersive, both heartbreaking and redemptive, steeped in harrowing historical events and heroic acts of compassion that will have you reflecting on the best and worst the human heart has to offer. Fans of WWII history and book clubs will find depth and skillful storytelling here, but on a deeper level, searing questions about life, love, and the choices we make in the most impossible of circumstances.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable family saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac GirlsWe Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.

BERLIN, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the south of France, where the widow of an old friend of her husband’s has agreed to take her in. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is inter­rupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.

NEW YORK, 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 the war. Heart­breaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.

My Review

I had to take some time out before writing a review for this book just to gather my thoughts. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read, and the WWII era in Europe in particular. Having visited Oradour-sur-Glane recently, I can only imagine the horror of what happened there. Seeing the village as it is now, untouched since those days as a ghostly reminder, only makes this story more poignant. However, if truth be told, I felt those macabre events were glossed over. Although, that’s my personal opinion and might not be the same for everyone.

For me, the story was beautifully written – the author conjures up vivid imagery and emotions – it’s not hard to see why this story has been called heartbreaking by so many.
From the 1930s in Berlin, we witnessed the all-too-familiar story of the rise of fascism, and the effect it had on the Steinberg family made for compelling reading. The injustice grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go, as we pray for a positive outcome for Amanda and her daughters, knowing all too well of the atrocities that could befall them.
Sending Viera off to Cuba alone, having her letters returned, and then to have to send Lina to the safety of another woman – Amanda was such a strong character, wanting the best for her girls and living with the guilt of ‘abandoning’ them.
Lina became Elise, and despite still being in hiding she blamed herself for so much – again, so heartbreaking to see a young girl having to deal with so much trauma and guilt. Wow!
However, at this point my heart went out to Danielle -she was such a tough cookie, following her mother’s will to the letter, yet always the one on the outside. Unbearably sad.

To be honest, the modern day story of Elise didn’t appeal to me. I could quite happily have read the story without that aspect of it. That being said, I guess it provided some closure on Elise’s life and for that alone it would be worthwhile to include.

As I’ve said, the writing is beautiful. However, at times the gorgeous prose slowed the story down and I found myself skimming to get ahead. Nonetheless, a tragic story that encompasses so many emotions in a way that we can only be thankful to only read about those days, rather than live through them ourselves.

As always,