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The Children's Warby Monique Charlesworth
Synopses & Reviews
In the spring of 1939, on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, a girl sits in a waiting room in Marseilles. Ilse is half Jewish; her mother has sent her out of Germany to a place she hopes will afford her daughter absolute safety. But instead, Ilse’s journey takes her deep into the landscape of war: first to Morocco, then to Paris under the threat of Nazi invasion. Traveling across borders, blown by circumstances beyond her control, Ilse must use her wits to survive an enemy occupation, one that steals away her name and sense of self, making even her own language taboo.
At the same time, in Germany, a boy struggles with his place in the Hitler Youth. Despite the comforts of his Hamburg home, Nicolai comes to feel that he is a stranger in his own land. As his mother takes up with another man, Nicolai finds emotional refuge in a growing attachment to his beautiful new nursemaid, a woman of silences and sorrows. Gradually, he draws out her secret: she has a child whom she fears may be lost to her forever. That child is Ilse.
The Children’s War evokes wartime lives and places with astonishing immediacy: the labyrin-thine bazaars of Meknès; Hamburg’s cellars packed with civilians during air raids; the salt tang of Marseilles, where prostitutes and gangsters live side by side with freedom fighters and refugees. We meet “Swing Boys” sneaking tobacco and home-distilled liquor in illicit jazz cafés, and young soldiers stirring pea soup beside tents on the sandy Baltic coast.
Meticulously researched, yet also a vivid work of imagination, The Children’s War re-creates the landscape of World War II in a new and utterly unforgettable way. Interweaving the stories of Ilse and of Nicolai, it is a gripping tale of adventure, loyalty, love and betrayal; of disappointment and hope; of parents and children trying to protect one another; of self-discovery. It is a stunning novel.
From the Hardcover edition.
The disintegrating world of Europe in the midst of World War II is seen through the eyes of two youngsters, Ilse, a half-Jewish girl sent out of Germany by her mother to find refuge from the Nazis, and Nicolai, a young boy in Germany who finds refuge from his involvement with the Hitler Youth in his growing attachment to his nurse, Ilse's mother. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.
Monique Charlesworth was born in Birkenhead, England, and has lived in France and Germany. She began writing fiction while living in Hong Kong and is the author of three previous novels. She has worked as a journalist and as a screenwriter for both film and television. She lives with her husband and two children in London.
From the Hardcover edition.
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