24 October 2013

The English German Girl by Jake Wallis Simons, Book review

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (September 3, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1626360747


The Kindertransport and the escape from Nazi Germany to the United Kingdom, grippingly depicted and revealed through the eyes of a little girl.

This powerful, meticulously researched novel is a moving tale of one girl’s struggle against a world in turmoil. In 1930s Berlin, choked by the tightening of Hitler’s fist, the Klein family is gradually losing everything that is precious to them. Their fifteen-year-old daughter, Rosa, slips out of Germany on a Kindertransport train to begin a new life in England. Charged with the task of securing a safe passage for her family, she vows that she will not rest until they are safe. But as war breaks out and she loses contact with her parents, Rosa finds herself wondering if there are some vows that can’t be kept.

A sweeping tale of love and loss, with the poignant story of the Kindertransport at its heart, this is an exceptional accomplishment from one of Britain’s bravest and most-vibrant young writers.

Here are my thoughts:

A powerfully written novel from a dynamic (and most promising) young author, The English German Girl brings us in Part One a poignant view of the years leading to the Nazis excluding anyone connected with the Jewish race and Judaism from society. 
There is nothing more excruciating for a parent than having to chose who will live and who will remain behind, a decision the Klein's family along many others made in the thirties.
Jake Wallis Simons goes a step further as we discover in Part Two of his book as we follow Rosa Klein now Rosa Clark in wartime England and even beyond Victory Day!

The Kindertransport carried hundred of youngsters to 'safer' lands but as we see eventually, some were too late.
I must first point out I have never read a more thorough detailed recount of the reluctance of so many families to acknowledge the political growing danger or their eventual despair when they realize they are being stripped of their citizenship and their rights to live, just live!
Imagine being told you can no longer be a tenant or buy food or go out, sit on a park bench,  work or...the list goes on!

In this remarkable novel Jake Wallis Simons tells us of fifteen year old Rosa Klein leaving her beloved Germany to join other evacuees en route to England and what happens to her in the ensuing years. 
Much praise should be given to the author for taking particular attention to not capitalize on sensationalism but instead providing a thoughtful and accurate idea of the period as well as a capital storyline. An impressive achievement indeed!

Rosa's life is one of a survivor and you cannot but hold your breath, turn yet another page whilst immersing yourself in every aspect of the emotional roller coaster she endures even when a ray of sunshine appears!
Be prepared for a lesson in courage and a bittersweet reminder that Rosa was lucky and given a chance at life when so many did not!

(UK cover, with details far more accurate!)

Folks, this is one time when I wish I could give it more than its 5 stars!

About the Author:

(Photo source HERE)

A versatile journalist, speaker and writer Jake Wallis Simons was born in London in 1978, graduated with a first in English from St Peter’s College, Oxford, and went on to gain a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Jake is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, and a Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University.

Jake is a regular contributor to From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, and presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary Crouching Low, Hidden Camera: Life as a Private Investigator.
His novels include the award-winning The English German Girl (2011), The Pure (2012), and The Exiled Times of a Tibetan Jew (2005), which was an Independent on Sunday Book of the Year. His next novel, Jam, which is set in a traffic jam on the M25, is due to be published in March 2014.

Vist his website (HERE) for more information!

Note to Readers: This was a library loan, a review was not requested and this post reflects ONLY my opinion!


  1. Thank you for visiting me Noelle and for your good wishes.

    The hills are alive to the sound of thermometers.

    God bless you and your family.

  2. I actually enjoy novels like this, because they usually prompt me to read more about the history they describe.

    1. Same here Tracey! Be on the lookout for some great reviews in the next few days (some I only wish there was a greater rating, well worth it for all the research!)

  3. I'm so glad to see you loved this book as much as I did. It completely blew me away, and you're right that it deserves the highest praise!

    1. A heartfelt thank you Anna as I wouldn't have known about it without you and missed a great novel!


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