The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel, Madeleine Maby (Narrator)
Published July 21st 2020 by Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster Audio
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a dual timeline story with one taking place during WWII and the second set in 2010 with Eva now in her 80s. This story deals with the smuggling of children out of Nazi occupied France by groups from the resistance.
Our heroine in this story, Eva Traube, is a French Jew living in Paris with her parents. She and her mother escaped the round up of foreign born Jews, while her father was taken. They quickly escaped to a small town in the Free Zone using forged papers, forged by Eva. Once she arrives in town, she is recruited to forge documents for Jewish children so they can escape to Switzerland. Her mother is not happy. She did not want to leave Paris, she does not like the chances Eva is taking and she does not like that she is getting to close to a catholic man, Rémy, another forger. Time passes and as the war continues. Eva wants to be able to remember and identify the children they are saving by changing their names, so she and Rémy devise a code in a book contained in the library at the church in the village. When their cell is compromised, not only do many get arrested, but the Germans pillage the town and the book is stolen.
The second timeline is the story of Eva Traube Abrams. She is living in Florida and has worked as a librarian, who is now semi-retired. When she sees a picture in a magazine showing “the book” she quickly reads the article. What she finds out is that Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library is trying to find out more about this book they believe was looted from a library in France. They also mention that there seems to be some kind of code in the book, but no one can decipher it. Eva knows that she has to go to Berlin and retrieve the book.
The majority of the story takes place during the war with the present tense bookending that story. I loved the story of Eva and her friends. Eva was a smart, extremely talented young woman. She was courageous and willing to do what she needed to do to save the children. The secondary characters that she worked with, also showed those same traits. It is always heartwarming to read about these unsung heroes who risked their lives to save the innocent. There were even some Germans who helped as they didn’t believe what the Nazis were doing was right. I know there were people all over Europe trying to save the Jewish people, who were innocents that were targeted by a mad man, but each story brings them to life for me. This was a bit of a lighter story than some of the others I have read, but it was still enjoyable. It focused on the resistance and the forgers not those that were saved, which is also a bit different than others. These things made it different for me, which added to my interest. Overall, a good story, with some tearful moments and some happier ones. If you enjoy dual timeline stories and historical fiction with some romance, then this is the book for you. I do recommend it.
I listened to the audiobook performed by Madeleine Maby. She did an excellent job. She gave Eva her voice and portrayed the emotions of her character well. Her male voices were believable. There were several times she had to switch to a different accent and she did this well with believable accents for this listener. I will definitely listen to more books she narrates.
About the Book (From Goodreads): Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.