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July 20, 2020

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"You said the children whose documents I'll be forging are without their parents. Who keeps track of their real names?...If the youngest ones can't recall where they come from?"

"It's too dangerous to send them across the border with anything bearing their true identities, Eva."

"Could you find out their names for me anyhow? I would know who they are. It's very important to me that they are not forgotten."

"I want to keep a list of the children we are falsifying documents for. They belong to someone, all of them." (loc 1815)
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Book of Lost Names
July 2020; Gallery Books; 978-1982131890
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); historical fiction
The Book of Lost Names
solidifies Kristin Harmel's place as one of the top writers of historic fiction about strong women during WWII.  I would give 10 stars to this book if I could.   Her book is based on real people, and she ties that in with comprehensive research and we have a fantastic book that won't soon be forgotten.

Eva, a semi-retired librarian in her 80s is shelving books and sees a newspaper picture of a book that she immediately recognizes.  It's a book that she hasn't seen in over 60 years and she refers to it as 'the book of lost names'.  Much to her son's disapproval, she books travel to Munich immediately to see the real book.  The German librarian who wrote the article discussed that many books had been taken back to Germany by the Nazis and he was trying to find the original owners.  He also mentioned that there was some sort of code in the book and he had no idea what it was.  But Eva knew what the code was - she had written those codes in that book during the war when she lived in France.

This is a two timeline novel with Eva during present day (2005) and Eva during WWII.  As Eva travels to Germany, she begins to think about her childhood.  After her father was arrested by the Nazis in Munich, she and her mother fled to the south of France, referred to as the free zone.  Eva had been in college but she was also an artist and she was approached by a priest and asked to help the partisans.  They were helping children get across the border to freedom and needed new papers and new identities to make their trip a success.  She begins doing forgeries but is unhappy that the children may never know their real names and where they came from so she and Remy, another member of the resistance, develop a code that they put into an old religious book that she referred to as the book of lost names. Once the Nazi army moves into their small town, she and Remy and the priest are in considerable danger and they know if their forgeries are discovered, it will be certain death for them.  During this stressful time, Eva and Remy's relationship changes and they fall in love with each other.  When their resistance group is betrayed and Remy disappears, Eva needs to run for her life.  She never forgets Remy and her time in the resistance even as she changes her life and moves to America.

This is a book about love and war, friendship and family, and endangering your own life to help other people.  The characters are well written and the storyline is intriguing.  Plus I learned some history that I'd never known.  I knew that children were sent to safe places without their parents but not about them changing their names or about the importance of forgeries during the war.  This was a wonderful book and is now on my list of favorite books about strong women in WWII.  Eva is a character that I won't soon forget.

NOTE:  Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the novel to find out more about the real people that this story is based on and on the research that she did.

Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel.

Two of my favorite books by Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker's Wife - read my review.
The Room on Rue Amelie - read my review.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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