The Most Precious of Cargoes

A Tale

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Pub Date 29 Sep 2020 | Archive Date 24 Nov 2020

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Description

Set during the height of World War II, a powerful and unsettling tale about a woodcutter and his wife, who finds a mysterious parcel thrown from a passing train.


Once upon a time in an enormous forest lived a woodcutter and his wife. The woodcutter is very poor and a war rages around them, making it difficult for them to put food on the table. Yet every night, his wife prays for a child.

A Jewish father rides on a train holding twin babies. His wife no longer has enough milk to feed both children. In hopes of saving them both, he wraps his daughter in a shawl and throws her into the forest.

While foraging for food, the wife finds a bundle, a baby girl wrapped in a shawl. Although she knows harboring this baby could lead to her death, she takes the child home.

Set against the horrors of the Holocaust and told with a fairytale-like lyricism, The Most Precious of Cargoes is a fable about family and redemption which reminds us that humanity can be found in the most inhumane of places.


Set during the height of World War II, a powerful and unsettling tale about a woodcutter and his wife, who finds a mysterious parcel thrown from a passing train.


Once upon a time in an enormous forest...


Advance Praise

Starred Booklist review:

“postmodern fairy tale, by turns evoking horror and wonder, that scrutinizes the relationship between myth and history.”

Starred Booklist review:

“postmodern fairy tale, by turns evoking horror and wonder, that scrutinizes the relationship between myth and history.”


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ISBN 9780062981790
PRICE $19.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 14 members


Featured Reviews

THE MOST PRECIOUS OF CARGOES BY JEAN-CLAUDE GRUMBERG This fable that was really about the Holocaust needed to be written and deserves a wide audience of reader's everywhere is a story that I will try my hardest to do justice. It had the same vibe that resonated with me as Eowen Ivey's "The Snow Child," except this dream-like magical realism is written with the real history of horror. A young father, married with two twin babies--both a girl and a boy has to make the unimaginable choice of throwing one of his twin babies out of a train window in between the bars. He does this out of anguish and at the same time he harbors some kind of hope that this unfathomable action that he is saving both beloved babies. His wife's milk has dried up and just maybe by some miracle the baby that he throws out the window will be found by someone with the means to feed it hence keeping both babies alive. But what a haunting and harrowing ordeal this is for him because he cannot choose...but is forced to just pick up one of the twin's so quickly that choice never enters his mind. Ever. He faces the admonishment of his disbelieving wife who can never understand must agree with his action. He doesn't even agree with his action. Some self survival mode kicks in from his reptilian brain--his most primitive part of his brain for a hope of survival for all four of them. He prays that he is doing what is best for his wife and both twin's. Perhaps the both twin's will survive... Watching this train pass by this most dense forest is the waiting, loving arms of a woodcutter's wife. She cannot believe her good fortune. Her greatest wish has just been answered by God. She has just received the greatest gift that she has spent her adult year's wishing for. A baby to love fiercely and cherish. How will she feed it? At first her husband the woodcutter is angry. Why has his wife burdened him with the worry of another mouth to feed? Once he hears this female baby's heartbeat--with the same synchronicity of his own it is love at first sight for him all of a sudden. The woodcutter's wife strikes up a bargain with a man in this densely treed forest for an armload of wood in exchange for a cup of milk from his goat. This is a labor of love. Then one night the heartless and soulless come for the baby. They mean to do it harm. "Run!!!" The woodcutter gives his own life for this toddler by distracting those who plan to do it harm by giving up his own life in order to save his wife and his adopted daughter. After the war the biological father happens to recognize his daughter with a woman selling goat cheese at a market. His heart overflows with love when he sees that not only has his daughter survived but has thrived. At the same time his grateful heart is filled with the sorrow of the loss of his only daughter, he knows he must love her from afar and leave her with her adopted mother because they both look so happy. He can see the love between them and it is deep. He moves on. Sometimes the greatest losses we face we are able to bear them knowing that our loved ones are happy and leave them where they are. It is with both a light and heavy heart that this father is able to walk away and let his daughter believe that she is right where she needs to be. Publication Date: September 29, 2020 Thank you to Net Galley, Jean-Claude Grumberg and HarperCollins Publishing for gifting me this ARC of this gem of a story that is both heartbreaking and beautiful in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. #NetGalley #TheMostPreciousofCargoes #HarperCollinsPublishing #JeanClaudeGrumberg

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The author creates a very clever twist by combining the fairy tale appeal with actual historic events. The woodcutters wife wanting a child, has been seen before in literature, but the story line is written as a fairy tale, while allowing the reader to recognize actual events from the past (WW 2). The innocence and simple mindedness of the poor woodcutter’s wife during those times seems realistic , and as the events unfold the story becomes a heartbreaking tale of sense of family and loyalty during hardships, and the question of what family really means. Hard to put down , highly recommended

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This Holocaust story, told in fairy tale style, brings readers in to the horrors of WWII. Both fanciful and stark, the story showcases life in a time that many have chosen to forget. This story is powerful in it's bold telling, and yet it creates a sort of hazed reality around the central plot that invites the reader to keep reading, even at the hardest points.

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