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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma

In the final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine the fate of a family.
Prussia, 1945

The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst. Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight, Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with her.

The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the blink of an eye,  Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Joseph Cramer. Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family.

In this moving, historically accurate portrayal of WWII Germany, the characters learn that, even with destruction all around them, some things last forever.

Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma was a startling look into the countryside of Prussia and Germany as 1945 came to a close and as the Red Army made its way towards Berlin. The descriptions of the events that take place, such as the fleeing of German refugees who are only women, the old, and the young while being bombed by Allied planes, the ravaging of women and the killing of innocents by the Russians, the hanging of "traitors" and their families by the Nazis, and the overall death, despair, and starvation that comes with a war that won't end, are haunting and are based on the true events that one of the author's relatives faced. The story line was riveting and quick paced, and it was hard to put the novel down. While a significant part of the novel did concern the travesties of the war and the innocent citizens who received a large portion of the devastation, there was also an undercurrent of love, courage, forgiveness (for oneself and others), and trusting God and others that brought a bright spot of hope into the novel. Daisies are Forever.

I also really enjoyed the characters of the novel. They were well developed, realistic, and had very different goals for their lives. Gisela, Mitch, Kurt, and Audra formed a very odd romantic situations, but I liked seeing Gisela and Mitch begin to rely on one another and God, Audra move past her own desires, and Kurt begin to find new life after his injury. I wish more had been said about what happened to Kurt in the epilogue. The other minor characters like the elderly sisters and the two young girls add more depth to the story and add some comic relief at times. Overall, I found this novel to be insightful and historically revealing look into what was happening in Berlin in 1945, as well as a sweet romantic novel.

I received this novel from Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

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