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Zonetta G. (Winter Springs, FL)
Having read more than one book about the Holocaust, there are always similarities. What sets this book apart is the love story amid the ruins and destruction and more importantly the effort it took the main characters to maintain and/or regain their humanity amid all the inhumanity. I thought the characters were well developed and mostly--but not completely believable. Overall it was a good read.
Linda C. (Carlisle, MA)
Aftermath of WWII
This book would probably generate an interesting discussion in a book club, and I would recommend it for a book club selection.
Not often does one find a book that focuses on the plight of the refugees at the end of WW II, and almost never a very real insight into the overwhelming challenges the Holocaust survivors faced. This book quickly drew me in, and gave me a capsule view of two such survivors. Jacob and Sarah meet in a very unlikely way in Heidelberg at the end of the war. Both have survived unimaginable horror and trauma. Jacob, with a deep, revengeful anger toward his brother's SS murderer, and Sarah with unfathomable pain from the horror and loss she endured. Together they have to try and work through this past into beginning to build a future and this is the focus of the story. It was informative, emotional, suspenseful, and I find myself thinking about it over and over. Great book group book!
Lauren T. (Orlando, FL)
Jacob's Oath by Martin Fletcher
Why return to a place when there is nothing left? Why not return? "When can a good person do a bad thing?" These are the primary questions dealt with in this very well-written novel about the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust. The story follows two young Jews who have had very different war experiences but are both broken in their own ways. The reader learns who they were and who they have become and watches them struggle with making a new life while still dealing with what happened to the old one. This book will make you think. It made me want to read more by this author.
Joan B. (Ellicott City, MD)
I wanted to give this book a 5 since it is more than just good. The few reservations I have come from the slow moving story. I did fall asleep several times while reading.
Anne M. (Austin, TX)
That being said, the plot was so true to the quandary generated by the difficult decisions of love and life. I could relate to Jacob's indecision. I would like to know Sarah better.
I think that the story is missing some emotional interaction since the author is a news correspondent and not a novelist. He includes great nuggets of interest about Germany's WWII trials. I will recommend this book to my book club for that reason.
This is the story of two survivors -- both Jews, one of whom survived Bergen-Belsen and one of whom survived living in bombed-out houses and other inhospitable spaces during the war. The title's "oath" refers to the promise Jacob made to his little brother, Maxie, to kill the camp guard who killed the boy; but it also refers to the vow Sarah made to make a life for herself, despite having lost everyone she loved.
Steve B. (Spring, TX)
The Holocaust and its Aftermath
Jacob and Sarah meet in Heidelberg after his concentration camp is liberated; Jacob finds that he has a talent for making money in all sorts of semi-questionable ways, and Sarah is still trying to recover from a rape that was perpetrated by a Russian soldier. "Jacob's Oath" is the story of their growing love for each other, and the choices they make as they decide whether to live in the past or create lives for themselves for the future.
This is a novel about one of the most horrific periods in our history; the holocaust and its aftermath. Author Martin Fletcher does a masterful job of capturing the essence of the heart rendering atrocities committed, and the despair created in the death camps. Jacob was interred in a concentration camp and was subjected to the cruelty and inhumane treatment of the Jews but was able to survive. His brother was less fortunate, dying in Jacob's arms.
Linda W. (Summit, NJ)
Before You Promise
The major portion of the novel deals with the time after the end of the war. Jacob meets Sarah, a survivor who was able to hide out and escape capture. She is also a victim, but at the hands of the liberators. Jacob is obsessed with fulfilling a promise made to his brother that he would avenge his death. This obsession threatens their relationship and their future.
Author Fletcher has created a story that held my interest throughout. It is a love story that has all the suspense, anxiety and pity that ones emotions can endure.
The premise for this book - why would a Jew who survived World War II chose to live in Germany - is an entry into the chaos of post-war life. It is also the framework for a poignant love story. The horror of survival in Germany of two Jewish young adults is not whitewashed. At times the deprivation and violence is hard to read, but the author counter balances these passages with wonderful descriptive phrases of an emerging spring and the resurrection of trust and love in Jacob and Sarah. Simple pleasures, like a bag of cherries and hot water, are embraced and savored. But the secrets and suffering of unfulfilled promises are potential obstacles to the future of their life and love together.
Virginia M. (San Antonio, TX)
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written and satisfying novel of romance, love and restoration seen through the eyes of Jacob and Sarah who scarred by the Holocaust.
This book is another Holocaust story but with a different twist. Instead of being focused on the horrible conditions Jacob Klein endured within a concentration camp or on the sub-human conditions faced by Sarah Kaufman who survived by hiding out for years fleeing from one safe house to another, this story is about these two Jews in the days immediately following the victories of the Allied armies. I believe the difficulties involved in trying to survive as free people who have lost everything have been pretty much overlooked in novels about this era. So the concept was intriguing for someone who loves historical fiction. The cover of the book announced that the author is a master storyteller, but I am sorry to report that it somehow seemed to lack true emotion and did not measure up to what I was anticipating.
I am not sure what it was lacking. In some ways, it seemed to be as if the author stands back and reports the facts without being invested in the characters being described. I never lost the feeling I was reading about these people rather than being enveloped and living in their shoes.
I would not recommend the book.