The Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood

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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.

Source: NetGalley and Bookouture Rating: DNF at 51%

The Bottom Line:  As a reader, two things (among many others!) have always held true for me: 1) I am a devoted fan of historical fiction and, 2) I am always drawn to books about the Holocaust and the concentration camps.  I can’t count the number of books I have read on this topic and most have left me a hot mess at the end; the atrocities perpetrated during this time in history are horrendous and should never be forgotten or made light of.  In the case of this particular book, The Violinist of Auschwitz, I actually found myself laughing aloud at how ludicrous some of the scenarios and conversations among the characters were.  In an effort to gain some perspective and determine if I was being overly judgmental, I talked with my husband about the book and the things I had already encountered during my reading.  As we are both fairly well-versed in the time period, it was agreed between us that The Violinist of Auschwitz has some serious issues.  Ultimately, I had to give up on this book because I found it to be far more fiction than historical fiction and that, I simply could not abide. 

Also, of note: In the last year, I read a quite enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz.   If you’re looking for a proper read about this time and place, I can highly recommend this book.  It is absolutely proper historical fiction and there isn’t a moment in this book that I wanted or felt compelled to do anything other than grieve for the people in the story.


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