Today I am incredibly honoured to be a part of Pam Jenoff’s blog tour for her newest release “The Orphan’s Tale”. This book is a very exceptional read, story that is for sure going to get under your skin and make you think some things over and over again. Next to my review I also have a wonderful guest post about the covers from the Author herself, so please just put your feet high and enjoy!
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Mira / HQ
Publishing Date: 23rd February 2016
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 368
Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival .
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.
So now. This book. “The Orphan’s Tale”. I’ve read it in one day. Even though the subject is not the easier one, it is full of difficult decisions and choices to be made, of situations the characters couldn’t decide themselves, of things they couldn’t influence, it was just flowing and it was told in a way that made me glued to the pages. I must admit – I was not so sure about this novel at the beginning – probably you must be in a right mood for such a story – it was hard for me to get into this book and the scene with the babies in the carriage was so incredibly sad that I was so short of putting it away. However, I kept reading and I am incredibly glad that I continued, as the story was beautiful, sad and engaging.
There is a group of main characters in this book and they were all really well developed, although I had some problems with Luc – for me he seemed to enter the scenes too rapidly and settled down on the pages too quickly, it somehow didn’t sit with me. I had a feeling that the author herself isn’t sure what to do with him, how to interweave his role into the story. However, all the other characters were incredibly believable, their feelings were palpable through the pages and it was really easy to get the sense of their hurt, fear, pain, uncertainty. The story was told from Noa and Astrid’s points of view mainly, but the other characters had also got a fair number of scenes – enough to root for them, worry about them. Yes, I admit, I had some problems with the character of Noa. There were moments that I couldn’t stop thinking that she’s too immature, that she voluntarily looks for danger, that she’s naive but in the end I changed my mind – she was only seventeen, for God’s sake, and she has actually proven that she’s the most non – egotistical soul in the world, that she’s willing to take a risk to save others. And – Noa developed so much in this story, she learnt. She was determined and she really wasn’t afraid to risk everything to help and save others. Her dedication, capability to sacrifice so much was truly heart – breaking and convincing. She was much more mature than her age signalized – but I think it was the case with many people during the war times, they just had to grow up faster.
I myself am not a fan of circuses but I always enjoyed reading about the wings, about the artists, and I truly enjoyed this aspect of this story, especially as it was set in such difficult times when – you could think – people had other things to think and worry about. However, the author explained and showed that people just needed this little piece of normality in their lives. She also showed how seriously the circus people took their role to entertain, how honourable they were and that their words were what counted. She has also very well captured how the lives of the artists really looked like and how much hard work it was to entertain the audience for those few minutes in the limelight. There were many troubles, struggles and hardships the performers endured – especially during the war. But no matter if in war or not, it was amazing to see how protective they were about each other, and the – yes! – families they bonded and created. It was all incredibly well researched. The knowledge shines out of the pages. We know lots about people hiding and protecting Jews during the war but Pam Jenoff has revealed many less known facts and created an emotional, heart – breaking historical novel.
“The Orphan’s Tale” is my first book by Pam Jenoff and what intrigued me about this novel was the blurb itself. Then it was told to me that the story is based on facts that the author learnt during her researches, which only made the reading more interesting. Also for certain it is not going to be the last book by this author, I can’t wait to look into her backlist titles, as this novel, this story of survival, of adapting but also of bravery and resilience was incredibly beautiful. It is a book about good and evil people, a story that tug at my heartstrings. Story about taking incredible risk and being able to risk your own life to save others. This is a poignant tale of perseverance and friendship, showing that a true family is not only who you are related to but that you can earn a true family when finding the right people, people that you can trust in the hardest, harshest of times. Recommended!
Author Confidential: On Book Covers and Titles
“I love your book cover!” Although thrilled when someone says this, I’m never sure of the appropriate response. “Thank you,” seems to suggest that I can take some credit for the work of art, which is the farthest thing from the truth. “I agree,” sounds very smug. The reality is that book covers are a complicated thing and I wind up with some mumble-mumble answer that is way more than the person who commented on the cover even wanted. The same can be said of titles.
So here are the things I would really like to say about book covers and titles.
I have no say (sort of.) The truth is, I have very little to do with the creation of a book cover. At some point I am asked for some key images or concepts from the story. (This usually happens well before I have finished writing the book, which is really, really scary.) I give my ideas and then many months later I am shown a cover concept. By the time I have seen the concept, it has already been reviewed my many folks at my publisher and is pretty far along. So while I get to give feedback, it is limited and late.
Titles are a little different. I always have a working title, but it almost always gets changed. Read on…
I never get attached to the original. My books always start with the working title I create. At some point though, my publisher decides this may not be the best title. I am often asked for suggestions for alternative titles. I come up with some, they come up with some. (But not always: I was once breastfeeding twins when my phone rang and a big editor – not from my current publisher — called and said, “We’ve changed the title to XYZ” and just hung up.) A title may change two or three times in the course of producing a book.
Similarly, the first cover concept I am shown is almost never the final. They almost always change. And as you will see below, that can be a good thing.
I trust in the power of market correction. There are times, I must confess, when an early cover concept is, well, just not right for the book. I used to freak out about this, imagining revulsion and shame at seeing it on the shelves. But I have since learned that covers go through many stages before approval. If I think it is wrong, chances are someone else will also. It may be marketing or the sales force. Other times covers are shown to accounts (think bookstore chains and retailers) and they say it is not right. We always get to something better.
I have also had the market correct titles. A bookstore executive once said, “Love the book, hate the title.” If it is a major retailer and it is the difference between the retailer taking a big order of books or not, a publisher will consider the change.
I understand that different covers work in different markets. My books also most always have different covers in the U.S. and U.K. Sometimes they even have different titles. (Though this is not my favorite because with people reading across borders in the digital age, readers can be confused if it is the same book or different.) Readerships are different in various countries and what may work in one market may not work in another.
All of this uncertainty and change in covers and titles can be overwhelming. Ultimately, I just remember that I am part of a team and that we all want the same thing: to get the best possible package to you, the reader.
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