A sweeping international love story that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over the inhumanities of war and prejudice.
Six-year-old Gretl and her sister jump from a train bound for Auschwitz, her mother and grandmother unable to squeeze between the bars covering the windows. The daughter of a German soldier, Gretl understands very little about how her grandmother's Jewishness brought her first to the ghetto, then to the train, and now, to the Polish countryside where she wanders, searching for food and water for her dying sister.
Soon, Gretl finds refuge with Jakob, a Polish freedom fighter, and his family, where she is sheltered until the end of the war. Gretl is then sent away to a new life, a new name, and a new faith in Apartheid-era South Africa. As she comes of age in this strange place, she confronts its prejudices as she hides the truth of her past from her new family.
When Jakob makes his way to South Africa many years later, Gretl and Jakob are reunited in a love story that transcends time and distance and survives the ravages of hatred and war.
I absolutely loved Irma Joubert’s The Girl from the Train. With fascinating detail and authentic characters, it tells a historical and heartfelt coming-of-age story. The story spans both time and geography, originating in World-War-II-era Europe and traveling with Gretl and Jakob through Apartheid-era South Africa. Two strong, resilient characters, Gretl and Jakob, bear many burdens imposed by their historical contexts and deal with tragedy, loss and challenges to their identities, which bonds the two in an enduring relationship. Emotional and beautiful, the journey of The Girl from the Train offers an addicting read, and fans of historical fiction will not want to miss it. I highly recommend it.
Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of The Girl from the Train and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)
International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She's the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in the Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.