NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Saturday, August 22, 2009


by Louise Murphy

"In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed 'Hansel' and 'Gretel'. They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called 'witch' by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children." (From the back of the Penguin Books edition.)

Reading the original Grimm Brothers' fairy tale before I began The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival made portions of the book more predictable but no less evocative and added a rich layer of meaning to many of the scenes. Like so many books about WWII and the Holocaust, this one is difficult but necessary. What I found most memorable was that not all of the Nazi's were stereotyped. There were those who questioned their orders, and those brave souls are the ones who lifted this particular WWII/Holocaust story to a higher plane.

Only the ending marred my opinion at all. It felt cartoonish in comparison to the rest of the novel, but that wouldn't stop me from naming this book as one of the best I've read this year.

Other Reviews:

Bookworm's Dinner


Paperback Reader said...

I've been desperate to read this novel and now even more so!

Lezlie said...

Paperback Reader ~ It will be *so* worth it when you get to it. Read the fairy tale, too, if you have the chance. It added a lot for me.


Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

I saw Hansel and Gretel performed at the NYC Opera and recently The Met, both were beautiful...I would love to read this book. Thanks for the review!

Jenny said...

I have this on my TBR. I've heard mixed things but I still think it sounds good! Great review!

Lezlie said...

Allie ~ I'll bet they were wonderful! It's a story that I think would lend itself very well to opera.

Jenny ~ Thanks, Jenny! I had never even heard of this book until I stumbled across it during a browsing trip to the store. There are just so many books out there! :-)


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

excellent review. this is one book i've wanted to read for a long time.

The Biblio Brat said...

I hate going through my Google Reader. Not because of the content, because it's awesome.

It's just ALL the freakin' books I add to my wishlist after reading a great review like this one!

Congratulations also on your BBAW nominations. Well deserved!

Lezlie said...

Diane ~ Once I discovered it, it didn't take me long to find an excuse to move it to the top of the pile. I hope you have a chance to do that soon!

Biblio Brat ~ Thank you! I hear you on the Google Reader dilemma. I finally have quit taking notes while I'm looking at it. But I find I'm coveting many more titles when I scan bookstore shelves! :-)


Tasha said...

I remember being intrigued by the cover of this book a while back. I'd like to read it at some point, but I'll make sure to re-read the Grimm version first.

Lezlie said...

Charley ~ That is definitely the way to approach this, in my opinion. You'll be surprised how much more you pick up in the novel afterwards!


Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

Lezlie, thanks for the review, I hadn't seen this yet but sadly looks like my TBR pile is now I book taller ;)

Unknown said...

Interesting take on the tale, shame about the ending. Not sure if I want to read about war goings on, I tend to prefer the films. Thanks for the review!

Lezlie said...

Mel ~ I'm always happy to help someone grow their TBR. I think everyone's should be completely out of control like mine so I feel normal. :-)

Mon ~ I'm exactly the opposite - I'd rather read it than watch the films. At least there is something for everyone! :-)


joanna said...

ooh, I've been dying to read this forever and it got lost somewhere... Thanks for reminding me, I need to get this one real soon!

Lezlie said...

Joanna ~ I'm always happy to help! :-)


Anna said...

I've been wanting to read this one, too. You know, there are way too many books I want to read and so little time left for the challenge. We're definitely going to have to revisit WWII! I'll get this up on War Through the Generations soon.

Diary of an Eccentric

Lezlie said...

Anna ~ Once I got going, I was just stunned at how many WWII books I wanted to read! I thought I was going to have trouble coming up with five, but there was no such difficulty. :-) I'm so glad you guys hosted this challenge and opened my eyes to all these great reads!


Lezlie said...

Thanks, Anna!