Title: The Violinist of Auschwitz
Author: Ellie Midwood
Publication: November 18, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
Auschwitz, 1943: In the depths of hell, can hope rise? And can love triumph over hatred?
Based on the unforgettable true story of Alma Rosé, The Violinist of Auschwitz brings to life one of history’s most fearless, inspiring and courageous heroines. Alma’s bravery saved countless lives, bringing hope to those who had forgotten its meaning…
In Auschwitz, every day is a fight for survival. Alma is inmate 50381, the number tattooed on her skin in pale blue ink. She is cooped up with thousands of others, torn from loved ones, trapped in a maze of barbed wire. Every day people disappear, never to be seen again.
This tragic reality couldn’t be further from Alma’s previous life. An esteemed violinist, her performances left her audiences spellbound. But when the Nazis descend on Europe, none of that can save her…
When the head of the women’s camp appoints Alma as the conductor of the orchestra, performing for prisoners trudging to work as well as the highest-ranking Nazis, Alma refuses: “they can kill me but they won’t make me play”. Yet she soon realizes the power this position offers: she can provide starving girls with extra rations and save many from the clutches of death.
This is how Alma meets Miklos, a talented pianist. Surrounded by despair, they find happiness in joint rehearsals, secret notes, and concerts they give side by side––all the while praying that this will one day end. But in Auschwitz, the very air is tainted with loss, and tragedy is the only certainty… In such a hopeless place, can their love survive?
This devastatingly heartbreaking yet beautifully hopeful tale proves that even in the darkest of days, love can prevail––and give you something to live for. Fans of The Choice, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Orphan Train will lose their hearts to this magnificent tale.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Historical Fiction has become one of my favorite genres over the last five years. Sometimes they are really hard to read because of the context of the book and it’s story lines, but I find they are important. They give us a glimpse into a world we didn’t get to, or have to, experience. Some of my favorite historical fiction novels are about Hitler’s time and how people survived that time when being put in such terrible situations. Having read books like The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris and having The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio G. Iturbe and Lilit Thwaites on my To Read list on Goodreads, I saw The Violinist of Auschwitz and just knew I had to read it. Ellie Midwood did not disappoint.
This book was in no way happy. It follows the story of Alma Rose, a real person in the real world whose story was shared after Hitler’s reign was ended. She was a world famous violinist who was also Jewish and was captured and put in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. This place was terrible. I have done much research on Auschwitz and the terrible things that happened there, but the way Midwood wrote it really gave a visual to a living situation that many had to deal with.
While the book deals with a very sad time in history, Midwood wrote about Alma’s story, which she had researched based on biographies, and stories from her fellow Music Block girls. Alma originally refused to play her violin for the Nazi’s, but quickly found that the position came with perks that she could use to her advantage to save herself and many of her orchestra friends. I found it incredibly interesting the way people were treated. German’s really loved their music then and she was treated very unlike most other Jews. Midwood wrote a story that hooks you and gets you emotionally attached to these characters.
When Alma was scared, I was scared. When Alma was joyous, I was joyous. And throughout the entire book, when Alma was disgusted, I was disgusted. I loved that a story could hook me so deeply that I felt I was watching everything play out from above. While it’s a sad story, we got glimpses of friendship, romance, and the little moments that most people take for granted, but those stuck in this camp thought were the best moments.
The Violinist of Auschwitz is definitely not for the faint of heart. There are graphic and detailed descriptions of things that happen. I felt like I could smell the crematorium ashes falling around me as I read with how well the descriptions were written. It really is a book that gives you horrific, but real visuals.
If you love Historical Fiction and love hearing stories of people drawing hope out of the darkest of places, then The Violinist of Auschwitz is definitely for you. I wish I had known Alma Rose. She sounds like one person everyone would want on their side in the worst situations. She knew how to hold her own and I feel privileged to have glimpsed her story through this book.
STAR RATING: 5/5
Pick up your copy of The Violinist of Auschwitz on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. You can check out more from author Ellie Midwood on her website HERE.