Published September 11th 2020 by Bookouture
Synopsis: The Nazis are everywhere now. We must leave Vienna. It might be that soon our letters won’t get out anymore. Can you help, dear sister? Please, ask for us. Send news, and quickly. Please.
London, 1938. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Leeman takes the heart-breaking decision to leave her family behind in Vienna and travel to England to join her cousin Leah in service. Natalie is placed with a wealthy suburban family, the Caplins, as a nanny to their energetic six-year-old.
At first, Natalie is delighted by the huge house and beautiful gardens, but things aren’t as perfect as they seem. While Natalie dotes on their child, she is increasingly wary of Mr. Caplin, whose gruff manor and fascist politics scare her. And then there are those still waiting at home – Mama and her two sisters, as well as a blossoming romance with her English tutor that had only just begun.
But when Vienna falls under Nazi rule, Natalie begins to fear for her family, especially her vivacious, tomboy little sister Libby. Then rumours of a possible escape route from mainland Europe called the kindertransport begin to swirl – can Natalie help her family escape the Nazis before it’s too late?
A heartbreaking wartime novel – emotional and unforgettable. Perfect for fans of The Alice Network, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Before We Were Yours.
With all the WWII books I have read, I am continually surprised when an original or different storyline comes about. Lizzie Page has taken a time and situation and written a very interesting and engrossing story. Natalie Leeman is only sixteen when she arrives in London in 1936. Her mother has sent her to England to work as a nanny and improve her English. Her mother and two sisters remain behind in Vienna. She also said good-bye to her English tutor and boyfriend, Rudi Strobl. Her only friend in England is her cousin Leah, who works as a domestic in another house not too far from where Natalie will be working. Natalie has a job with the Caplins, as a nanny to their six year old son Hugo. Natalie comes to love Hugo, spending time with him, teaching him languages and having fun, it helps with her homesickness. By 1939, Natalie is frantic to get her family out of Austria, but unfortunately, so is everyone else, and she is unable to find a guarantor. While continuing her quest to get her family to England, she meets a young German man who she becomes close to. As it turns out, all does not go well with her job and when a bad situation arises, she leaves the Caplins and goes to stay with her cousin. This is Natalie’s story.
I loved Natalie’s character. She was extremely brave, smart and adaptable. She was loving and with her family so far away, she poured her love out onto Hugo, which he lapped up, getting no affection from his parents. Natalie was loyal and kept secrets for her employer, Mrs. Caplin. Mrs. Caplin was one of the characters that I didn’t like. She was so phony and only worried about herself. Hugo was a dear. He was a little boy that just wanted to have fun, but also to have someone care about him. My heart broke for this lonely little boy.
As I read this story, I learned a lot about this time. I did not realize that so many Jewish Austrians and Germans fled to England in the mid 1930s to work as domestics. Those women were the lucky ones as they survived the atrocities of the war and were allowed to remain in the country after the war. These women and men felt helpless and like failures when they could not save their families. There was also some anti-semitism in England, so it was also hard on them to make a living if they lost their positions. This was a well-written and plotted story. I was fascinated by the story and cared what happened to the relatable and believable characters. If you are a fan of historical fiction, pick this one up. You might learn about a time you were not aware of, as well as reading an enjoyable story. I was gifted a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
She lives with her family by the sea in South East England. And with her dog. She enjoys traveling and lived in Japan for several years. Lizzie has had lots of different jobs from waitressing and teaching to admin and bingo-calling – but being a writer is her absolute favourite.
She’d love to hear what you think of her books – feel free to send her a message on twitter @LizziePagewrite or on FB or leave a review on amazon.