Tuesday 26 January 2021

The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert (4/52 Books in 52 Weeks)

It's week four of 52 Books in 52 Weeks. This weeks reading adventure took me back to the land of my birth South Africa although the story begins in Europe.  I spent a delightful few days immersed in World War II in Germany, Poland and South Africa reading The Girl From the Train (not to be confused with the popular mainstream novel The Girl on the Train)

The Girl From the Train

  • Format Paperback | 384 pages 
  • Dimensions 138 x 214 x 22mm | 362g 
  • Publisher Thomas Nelson Publishers 
  • Language English 
  • ISBN10: 0529102374 
  • ISBN13: 9780529102379 
  • Available as a paperback and audio book.

The Girl From the Train was originally published in Afrikaans under the title Tussen Stasies (I really wish they had kept the direct translation for the title - Between Stations.) 

Irma takes us on a journey of discovery, illustrating the effects of the war in the lives of children. The story is a beutiful illustration of how unconditional love can impact and redeem the sadest of experiences and change lives for the better.

The story opens near the end of World War II in southern Poland in April 1944 with a family desperate to save their children from the horrors of Aushwitz.  We meet Gretl Schmidt on a train bound for Aushwitz..., and Jakob Kowalski who is fighting witht the Polish resistance and is planting a bomb on the tracks.

Gretl escapes the train and by a series of events meets Jakob who takes her to his family farm to be cared for and thius begins the journey of two lives that become entertwined, spanning 15 years and two continents.  

Gretl is adopted by a family in South Africa where she lives with her secrets and grows up with a family who loves her deeply as thought she were born into their arms.  

Jakob stays in Poland.  Through the years they each are followed by the echo of the other clinging to the momories until due to circumstances the improbable happens. 

From Book Depositiory: "Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakob Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakob fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl's unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakob discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can't stay with him forever. Jakob sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families-so long as Gretl's Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakob and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome. "

 The Author - Irma Jouber

  •  International bestselling author
  • She was a history teacher for 35 years before she began her writing career.
  • Writes in her native language of Afrikaans.
  • The Girl from the Train is her first novel to be translated into english.
  • She won the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.
  • Connect with her on Facebook here.

I discovered that  The Girl From the Train is book two in the first trilogy from this author.  I am keen to read the other two books. It seems I may need to brush up on my Afrikaans reading in order to read them.

Books by this author

  • 1. Veilige hawe
  • 2. Tuiskoms (a collection of short stories)
  • 3. Verbode Drif (a historical novel, spanning 1903–1910)

First trilogy:

  • 4. Ver wink die Suiderkruis (set in 1932–1933)
  • 5. Tussen stasies (The Girl From the Train )(spanning World War II to 1958)
  • 6. Tolbos (set in 1976–1989)

Second trilogy:

  • 7. Anderkant Pontenilo (historical novel spanning 1938 - 1945)
  • 8. PĂ©rsomi, kind van die brakrant  (Child of the River) (1938–1968)
  • 9. Kronkelpad (The Crooked Path) (1938–1983)

Third trilogy (in progress):

  • 10. Immer wes (a historical novel spanning 1905–1947)
  • 11. Mentje - Kind van die Pas-Opkamp (a historical novel)

Who are some of your favourite historical authors?

1 comment:

  1. This book has been on my TBR for quite some time. Your review makes me want to move it to the top of the pile.

    I have not been reading a lot of historical fiction recently. However, I have enjoyed books by Lynn Austin, Susan Meissner, Julie Klassen, Kate Breslin, and Lauraine Snelling.


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