I received The Last Train to London from my Aunt Sue as a gift when we welcomed our newest baby, Alice, into the family. I think this was such a sweet gesture, and a great reminder that mommy needs looking after too!! I’ve been meaning to pick up this book since last year… but my library pile had always seem to get in the way.
Now in the time of self-isolation, and covid-19, and the libraries are closed. So my unread bookshelf is getting a workout! I’ve read a ton of WWII books, and every time I pick up one I am always in awe at how many different stories there are to tell during this time period.
Set pre-war in 1936, this novel is based on the true story of Truus Wijsmuller, who was member of the Dutch resistance. As Germany’s political climate is becoming more troubling, Truus begins rescuing Jewish children here and there, and getting them fitted up with a family who will take them in Britain until this troubling time is over. Two of these children happen to be in Vienna, Stephan Neuman, the son of the famous Jewish chocolatier, and his best friend, Zofie-Helene, whose Christian mother is a journalist at an anti-Nazi Newspaper. Truus goes on to spear head the Kindertransport, where she tries to help these two, and also over ten thousand other children all over German-occupied countries. Amazingly enough, Truus struck a deal with Adolf Eichmann, and lo and behold was able to save these children before the War started.
I had a bit of a hard time getting into this one, but once I was down about 120 pages, I was in! The characters for the first while seemed somewhat disjointed from each other, but around that 120 page, it all came together. It is a really well-researched book, and one thing I found really neat and haven’t seen in many fictional WWII books is that there is some narration from Eichmann, and Hitler themselves. Usually you are seeing these characters from the periphery, so I found it really interesting, and also a big undertaking on behalf of the author! There were some really heartbreaking moments in this novel, and I don’t know if it was me or the quarantine-version of me… but I found myself choking up a couple times.
One thing that I loved about this book was the Dutch references, from food like hagelslag, to the towns in Holland, I found myself reminiscing about the trips I’ve taken there with my family, and all the foods we ate my Gramma and Grandpa’s house growing up. Isn’t it wonderful how a book can strike such a personal chord with a reader?!
This feelings that this book brings on are so relevant to what’s currently going on in the world. I’ve heard multiple references to this pandemic being a War that we are fighting. I’m going to share with you one of the quotes that was on the back on the book;
Recommend this book to anyone who thinks no one person can make a difference. – Karen Joy Fowler
Well, if that’s not encouragement that’s needed right now in this crazy times, I don’t know what is. Just like Truus, any normal person can help.
That’s all for today, stay home and read!