Echoes by Danielle Steel

I got this book from a colleague who wanted to get rid of some books and I was all too happy to get them off her hands.

The book is set in times of the Holocaust, focusing on two lives. One with lost love and the other finding love.

Beata Wittgenstein was born into a prestigious Jewish family of six. She grows up feeling like the black sheep of the family and not really being understood by any of them but is the apple of her father’s eye. Beata has her mother’s looks, considered to be typical Jewish traits and her siblings have blonde hair, are built athletically and are what she sees as extremely attractive. Her dreams are not to find a soulmate, settle down and have children – as is the case with her sister – but rather to study further, which her father frowns upon.

Times of war begin, and her two brothers are forced to join the German army. While this happens, Beata’s well-off family have vacations in countries outside of Germany, so they are distracted from news of the war in their own country. It is on one of these holidays that Beata meets a French man, Antoine who is about ten years her senior and they fall in love. She was a Jew from Germany, and he was a Frenchman from Switzerland. The war at the time saw Germany and France on opposing sides, making this an impossible union.

When the two decide to pursue their love for one another and disclose it to their families, both are disowned by them. Antoine had a cousin living on a farm who accepted them with open arms. They found it difficult at first as both had come from a background of privilege and were not familiar with hard labour. After a while of living on the farm and Beata learning the Catholic faith, they agreed to get married. They were deeply and passionately in love with one another; Amadea and Daphne, their daughters, were a testament to it. Amadea was eight and Daphne was just a baby when their father, Antoine, passed away from a horse-riding accident, leaving them distraught. This happened at a time when Jews were being yanked from their homes and forced into concentration camps.

Beata hides for several years while Amadea finishes school and decides to join the convent as a Nun. Amadea worries for the safety of her mother and sister but sees her new journey as a calling, one she cannot ignore.  After about three years of getting used to the sisterhood and the life that comes with it, Amadea hears of the tragedy that her mother and little sister have been taken by the Nazis.

She leaves the convent to hide at her father’s friend’s farm but is eventually caught and taken to a camp. She searches for her mother and sister but never finds them. A young German soldier falls for her while at the camp and helps her to escape for his own reasons. Once out, she is found by a group opposing the war and because of her ‘Aryan race’ looks, they decide to train her as a spy.

This new journey she embarks on leads her to love, loss and family.

  • Phumzile

Published by 1001 Bookish Things

Reviews of the books we read (when we get the time to)...

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