Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.
This week’s Pick is…
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel
Blurb: 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. Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, this haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and tells a resonant, riveting story.
It’s nearly the end of the Nazi occupation of Poland and a father must abandon his children near a forest so that they can search for safety from the Germans. On the journey, they meet Magda, the so-called village witch. Magda is willing to risk her life and others to keep the children safe.
“The wheel turns. Blue above, green below, we wonder a long way, but love is what the cup of our soul contains when we leave the world and the flesh. This we will drink forever. I know. I am Magna. I am the witch.”
Hansel and Gretel has been a favorite fairy tale since childhood. It was most definitely one of the scariest. The way the author has taken the fairy tale, re-imagined it, and paired it with the evil nightmare of WWII is fascinating. The story feels so authentic. It’s incredible to me how the author has a way of keeping to the original story of Hansel and Gretel throughout, consistently hovering around elements true to the original fairy tale.
The story itself is dark and twisted and highlights the true evil doing against the Jewish, Gypsies, and dissidents during WWII. It was nothing like what I expected. I had an idea of the plot, but there’s so much more to the story. Parts of the story were so hard to get through, but I loved the characters especially Magda, Nelka, Telek, Hansel, and Gretel. Magna was surely my most prized character. The beautiful prose and specific elements reminded me of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, which is one of my favorite books of 2017.
There are discussion questions and an interview with the author at the conclusion which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m not sure why it’s listed as having 320 pages. My book has 297 plus a few more for interview and discussion.
This book gets 5-stars from me…
- Paperback: 297 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (July 29, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142003077
- ISBN-13: 978-0142003077