A Must Read!

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Having finished this remarkable book, The Nine, by Gwen Strauss a week ago, I needed to think about it for several days before I could write about it. I read a lot of WW II fiction and non-fiction as I see each book as a puzzle piece that when putting the WW II puzzle together gives the reader more understanding of the war and the lives of individuals during this time.

Gwen Strauss started her research with an interview with her great aunt, Hélène Podiasky, a member of the French Resistance who was captured, interrogated and sent to Ravensbruck and later a labor camp in Leipzig. Hélène and eight other women, Zara, Nicole, Lon,, Guigui, Zinka, Josephine, Jacqueline, and Mena escaped during the death march. All of these women were in their twenties, had been members of the Resistance. They met each other at different times. Strauss interviewed members of their families while doing research for this book. She documents interviews, books, historical files and visits to the places mentioned in this book.

I was amazed how she covered each of these women’s back stories, their time in the camps, and the times of adjustment after the war. I felt the pain of the horrors they were subjected to in the camps, The pulling of a molar, standing for hours for roll calls, the lack of food..........I also felt the humanness, the caring for each other in the most difficult of times, the ingenuity, and the bravery of each of these women. I recently read A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell which is a good companion book to Strauss’s masterpiece.

My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.