Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: The Love That I Have

Title: The Love That I Have
Author: James Moloney
Publisher: 21 May 2018 by Harper Collins (Australia)
Pages: 304 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, World War II
My Rating: 5 cups

For fans of The Book Thief, a powerful and heartbreaking story set during WW2 that stays with you long after the final page is read.
Margot Baumann has left school to take up her sister's job in the mailroom of a large prison. But this is Germany in 1944, and the prison is Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin.
Margot is shielded from the camp's brutality as she has no contact with prisoners. But she does handle their mail and, when given a cigarette lighter and told to burn the letters, she is horrified by the callous act she must carry out with her own hands. This is especially painful since her brother was taken prisoner at Stalingrad and her family have had no letters from him. So Margot steals a few letters, intending to send them in secret, only to find herself drawn to their heart-rending words of hope, of despair, and of love.
This is how Margot comes to know Dieter Kleinschmidt - through the beauty and the passion of his letters to his girlfriend.
And since his girlfriend is also named Margot, it is like reading love letters written for her.
From award-winning Australian author James Moloney, comes a fresh and compelling story about love, loss and profound bravery.
My Thoughts

‘The dead should know they are loved. He’s right, and that’s why I can’t destroy these remaining letters. Among them are the most loving I’ve come across, and too much love has been burned, tossed aside, ignored and forgotten for me to treat them so cruelly.’

I loved this book. A story that is so authentically regaled, it is as if you are reading a memoir. Those of us who never tire of diving into this tragic period in history, will find something fresh in Moloney’s tale. A simple yet compelling story, with a well weaved plot that will make everything seem so real. War is horrific, whatever side you are on, yet the bravery expressed through pure love and devotion from this tale will touch your heart.

‘This is something I want to do just for me, to fill an emptiness inside me I wasn’t even aware of until I started reading letters from that barrel. I want to be in love like he is. There, I’ve said it, so I’ll say the rest. I want someone to love me the way he loves this other Margot.’

The fresh aspect I found is that neither Margot nor Dieter were Jews. So once again you are presented with a youthful German perspective from both in and outside the camps. Dieter, a young German who was caught up defending others and consequently punished and Margot so fresh faced and eager for life. Push away logistics of ‘how’ things were achieved, and just immerse yourself in the power of passion. Here is a young girl blinded by the Hitler youth, yet through gradual revelation, will have the blinkers removed and risk all to do what she feels is right. I was shocked by after war events - fear of the Russians  and how quickly fingers were pointed at seeming collaborators. The story of Margot and Dieter is sure to sit with you for some time.

‘If I ever get to meet him, I’ll be looking into the face of a dreamer like myself.’

If you are at all inclined to read historical fiction then The Love That I Have is a moving tale, none least of which is the power of words and how love can feed a soul when so much appears lost. An innocent heroine filled with courage who set out to prove that love could and would triumph over hate.

‘Maybe there is no God, only a giant set of scales, and now that the world is weighed down by hatred and war, it is up to people like us to balance things out so the whole planet doesn’t tip over into darkness.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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