The War Girls
A WW2 Novel of Sisterhood and Survival
by V.S. Alexander
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Pub Date 26 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 02 Aug 2022
Kensington Books, Kensington
Casting light into one of the darkest periods of World War II, acclaimed author V.S. Alexander’s powerful historical novel tells of two Jewish sisters - one imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto and the other who joins the Special Operations Executive in a daring attempt to free her family from the ever-tightening Nazi stranglehold.
It’s not just a thousand miles that separates Hanna Majewski from her younger sister, Stefa. There is another gulf—between the traditional Jewish ways that Hanna chose to leave behind in Warsaw, and her new, independent life in London. But as autumn of 1940 draws near, Germany begins a savage aerial bombing campaign in England, killing and displacing tens of thousands. Hanna, who narrowly escapes death, is recruited as a spy in an undercover operation that sends her back to her war-torn homeland.
In Hanna’s absence, her parents, sister, and brother have been driven from their comfortable apartment into the Warsaw Ghetto. Sealed off from the rest of the city, the Ghetto becomes a prison for nearly half a million Jews, struggling to survive amid starvation, disease, and the constant threat of deportation to Treblinka. Once a pretty and level-headed teenager, Stefa is now committed to the Jewish resistance. Together, she, Hanna, and Janka, a family friend living on the Aryan side of the city, form a trio called The War Girls. Against overwhelming odds and through heartbreak they will fight to rescue their loved ones, finding courage through sisterhood to keep hope alive . . .
Praise for V.S. Alexander and The Sculptress
“Fans of Alena Dillon, Lucinda Riley, and Alexander’s previous work will appreciate the historical accuracy saturating every page of this moving, compassionate novel.” —Booklist
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“History is important to me. We need a record - to tell the truth about what’s happening to the Jews in Poland. This record will let us live long past our years on earth.”
Have you ever finished a book and immediately wanted to climb up on the roof and tell everyone who’ll listen what a fantastic read it is?! This book is THAT good. It’s historical fiction ‘done right.’
Every once in a while a fantastic historical fiction book comes across my desk and I just know that it’ll be right up there with my favourite reads of the year. This one begs to be read, shared, and re-read so that we don’t lose the memory of this terrible time in history. I’m buying another copy for my niece so that V.S. Alexander’s message is not lost to time. I want everyone, decades from now, to know about Emanuel Ringelblum and his role in spreading the word.
The War Girls is a masterpiece - a lovingly woven tapestry featuring the girls from Krochmalna Street who stood against the Nazis and fought for freedom. This tapestry highlights the threads of Judaism, the Blitz, the Warsaw Ghetto and the Special Operations Executive in England.
One of the things I loved about this book is that it is centered around a street - Krochmalna Street - in Warsaw. As the seasons come and go and as the German tanks rumble down it, the Majewski, Krakowski and Danek families who live on this street witness the changes as the Germans’ grip tightens on this city.
Alexander has delved deeply into the Judaic culture and has revealed so much of this 5000-year-old religion. Many wartime historical fiction books claim to have Jewish characters and I accepted the religious label. However, once you read this book, you realize that the majority of other authors just scraped the surface and relied on telling readers not showing them. Alexander SHOWS readers and steeps them deeply into the traditions and teachings of Judaism. I knew about the religious identity of the characters because of the way they honoured the laws and traditions; lighting the candles at sunset on Rosh Hashanah Eve, reciting the blessing and shehecheyanu benediction, performing kaporos, days of prayer and fasting, touching the mezuzah. I may not remember each of these traditions in months to come, but I’ll remember that the families in the ghetto were dedicated to their faith despite the restrictions and lack of freedoms.
I’ll also remember the enclosing of the Warsaw Ghetto because Alexander SHOWS readers the characters building the wall and the families relocating. Those visuals will stay with me longer than an author telling me that a family was relocated or that a wall was built. Likewise, I won’t forget about the woman with the loaf of bread outside the ghetto. That memory is etched in my brain. I'll remember the courage families had to live another day despite the atrocities levied upon them by the Nazi regime.
The author is to be commended for teaching us about little-known aspects of WW2; the secrets of Station 14: Briggens House, the term ‘Roman candle’, and Operation Himmler, to name a few.
Thank you for not simply entertaining me, V.S. Alexander. Your meticulously researched and heartfelt novel has impressed an image on my heart and inspired a mission: I’ll boldly ensure that as many historical fiction lovers read this one as I can possibly manage.
I was gifted this advance copy by V.S. Alexander, Kensington Books and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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