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The Book of Lost Names

by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel X
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jul 2020, 400 pages

    May 2021, 400 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Will Heath
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There are currently 7 reader reviews for The Book of Lost Names
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Outstanding book!
Thoroughly engrossing book! I felt transported to 1940s France and I felt all of the main character’s emotions as if they were my own.
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One of the best books in 2021. What a shame if it is missed by any historian, especially regarding the holocaust.

There are probably many more aspects of this horrific event that have not yet been written about and the subject is just as sad today as it was when it ended. There is no way to make sense of such a tragedy.

This book gives some hope for humanity and for that I thank the author Kristin Harmel.
Charla Wilson

One of the Best books about WWll
I have read many books about WWII and I put this at the top of the list of the best books about the subject! The story is centered around a young Jewish woman, Eva Traube, living in France with her parents when the Germans invaded. Eva becomes a very good forger of documents that help get Jewish children into Switzerland and to safety. While forging documents Eva works with Remy who is also a forger and part of the resistance movement and together they come up with a way to keep a record of the names of the children they forge new names for. The method they use to keep the list is called the Fibonacci sequence which is placed inside an old Catholic Church book. Sixty years after Eva lost everything she comes across an article about the book being in a German library. Even though Eva never told her family about her role in the war, she leaves everything to go to Germany to collect her book. It is on the trip to collect the book that she starts remembering the war and all that she lived through and the story is told by way of her memory. Like all of these stories it is very sad and difficult to comprehend all of the horrible things that happened. But, it written beautifully and I now look forward to reading other books written by Kristin Harmel.
Mary C

The Book of Lost Names” pulled out all my emotions!
I was left weeping and celebrating all at the same time. With the most tender kind of writing for a time in our history where the suffering was intensely exquisite, Kristin Hormel writes with delicacy and in such a warm way that this entire story leaves you breathless, closing the book grateful for knowing this part of history.

When such raw beauty & awe resonates from the pages of a novel, it is because authors like Kristin Harmel can take a character like Eva and make her feel so real to us that we want to reach out and hug her in gratitude!
Carol N.

A Deeper Look into WWII French Resistance...
"The Book of Lost Names" by Kristin Harmel is one of the many books recently published about World War II. I really wasn't looking to read another book on the subject, yet when BookBrowse offered it, I was curious about its unique title. I am glad I was able to read it as it provided me with a deeper look into the French resistance.

This is a story of a young Jewish woman, who struggles to do the right thing for her family, her beliefs, and her country. Eva Traube Abrams, an 86-year-old Florida librarian, is hurled back into her past when she recognizes a stolen book, "The Book of Lost Names," that a German librarian is trying to restore to its rightful owner. In 1942, she and her mother fled from Paris to a small hidden village on the Swiss border after the arrest of her beloved father. She learns the intricate art of forging false identification documents for Jewish children and others and meets and falls in love with a fellow Christian forger, Rémy.

It is a well written, interesting and entertaining book filled with some wonderful characters. However, I found Eva's mother with her constant negativity annoying, irritating and ungrateful rather proud of her daughter's dedication in forging documents and transporting Jewish children to safety. The book follows the current pattern as seen in so many recent novels, alternating the past and present, tying the two together, this one is done very well. The ending, while predictable and touching, seemed to be rushed to within the last few pages and needed include more details such as what happened to the four children Eva and Rémy accompanied to the Swiss border.

The courage of ordinary people.
I was as impressed that Eva was so willing to help forge documents so that Jewish children could escape to Switzerland. She put her needs and that of her mother's aside to help in that effort. It's good to know there are so many selfless people in the world! Although I did find Eva's mother annoying. I think it was realistic for how people were in denial of what the Nazis were capable of. She was not interested in rescuing the children and her thoughtless comments often put Eva in danger. She was blind to what was going on around her. I wondered how many of our parents and grandparents hid stories about the war from us as they were too painful to recall. I gave this a 4 and not a 5 because I did not like the ending. It was too much like a Hallmark movie, and a little hard to believe. But I did enjoy the story.
Amy Ashe

Ultimately disappointing
This book was engrossing because of its information regarding forgeries during WW II, but I was ultimately disappointed on two aspects of the book. First, as a Jewish reader, I was taken aback by some lack of knowledge concerning Jewish customs (ie, Jews don’t kneel for prayer and Hanukkah - the only Jewish holiday mentioned - is a minor holiday especially in Europe at that time period). Also, I was a bit taken aback that the informer—spoiler alert—-was Jewish, but not Jewish enough for the Nazis to arrest since he wasn’t 100 Jewish; the Nazis considered a person Jewish if one grandparent was a Jew.
My other disappointment concerned the plot. The odds of two 85 year old people being both physically and mentally healthy - and reuniting after so many years - is astronomical, but I’ll go along with the romance aspect. What was really missing was any mention of the children, whose real names were carefully recorded in the clever code, after the war. Was any effort made to track down these kids? Or to reunite them with family? Yes, I know the names were sent to Yad V’Shem in Jerusalem, but considering the novel’s title is The Book of Lost Names, surely more attention could have been paid to this aspect.
I was sorry I spent money on this novel.
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