The Orphan’s Tale: A Novel
Author: Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Mira, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback Edition: 342 pages plus Author’s Note, Interview, Reader’s Guide and excerpt from The Kommandant’s Girl
This is the riveting story of two young women told through dual viewpoints. Noa and Astrid are caught up in the horror and intrigue of wartime Germany and France (1944). Both are orphans of a kind with nowhere to go. Both find refuge in the circus life. To be part of a circus in the mid-twentieth century, to hide in plain sight, to perform before enthusiastic audiences and to be caught in a net of love and horror, all this and more makes for a very exciting read. This is one of those books you hate to see end. So many paths are possible. So much suspense.
The reader also hates to see it end because the characters are powerful, especially these women at the center of the story. When they meet aerialist Astrid is to teach Noa to perform in a flying trapeze act. The journey of their relationship starts in rocky terrain. It develops over the course of their tale. Can friendship be a lifeline? Who and what will survive. Character development for both major and minor characters is a strength of this novel.
For this reader who has read many novels set in Europe during World War II, there are fresh viewpoints expressed in this tale some readers may find renew their interest in this era. Children are important to the story as well as the effect of the Nazi occupation on families. From the heartbreaking opening to the last circus show, surprises abound. This book is quite a journey and an enjoyable read.