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The Midwife of Berlin, by Anna Stuart

The Midwife of Berlin book coverTRIGGER WARNING: rape, Holocaust (neither graphically described)
1961, Olivia is the black sheep of her family: very sporty and offered the chance to train for the DDR national team. Kirsten is the black sheep of her family in West Berlin: creative and skilled with a needle. The pair finally meet and they want to unite the families and heal the horrors of the past but the politics of the Berlin Wall threaten their dreams…
The Midwife of Berlin is an historical novel set in the 1960s with chapters from the 1940s and 50s. There is a strong connection to The Midwife of Auschwitz with continuation of plot lines but it is not necessary to have read that first.
The prologue of this book made me think I’d read this book before. A midwife in Auschwitz is tattooing newborn babies so that they can be reunited with their mothers later. This book is very much a follow up of the life story of midwife Ester, her adopted daughter Olivia, and lost daughter Pippa (now Kirsten).
Olivia and Kirsten are on either side of the divide, both thinking that their nation is the best. But now echoes from the past and the truth about their families make them face a dangerous reality. Olivia sees the danger of the capitalism of the West but also witnesses the brutality of the socialist regime. Kirsten’s adopted father was a wholehearted Nazi and has now been released from prison. His wife was raped and conceived a child so now he has a Jew and a half-Russian in his home.
There is huge emotion countered by political detail as the two teens seek the truth from opposing sides of the Berlin divide. The power of a mother’s love features heavily but there is also sibling love and romantic love to soften the harshness of the characters’ experiences.
I found the historical and geographical setting compelling, authentic and well researched. I do not know a great deal about the situation in Germany in 1961 so I found the plot and characters interesting. This was strengthened by the history of the missing babies from Auschwitz and the emotional jorney that Ester goes on as a mother.
The Midwife of Berlin is an emotional and interesting historical novel.
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Auschwitz, 1943: I stroke my beautiful baby’s hair. It’s a miracle it’s blonde because it will keep her alive, it will keep her safe. Soon they will come and take Pippa out of Auschwitz-Birkenau – and out of my arms. But while there’s life, there’s hope I might find my daughter again…
An incredible story of one woman’s courage and determination to reunite her family in the aftermath of surviving Auschwitz.
1945, Berlin: Ester Pasternak walked out of the gates of Auschwitz barely alive. She survived against devastating odds, but her heartbreaking journey is only just beginning. In the camp, Ester gave birth to a tiny fair-haired infant, only for her precious baby to be snatched from her and taken to a German family. Now the war is over, Ester longs to find her little girl.
But Europe is in chaos, Jewish families have been torn apart and everyone is desperately searching for their loved ones. In every orphanage and hospital she visits, Ester searches the faces of tear-stained toddlers; each mop of blonde hair and pair of blue eyes she sees sets her heart racing…
But as the months and the years tick by, the possibility of finding her daughter shrinks smaller and smaller. And Ester starts to wonder if little Pippa is even safe, or whether the miracle that saved her has now put her in even more danger?
Will Ester ever be able to find the child whose tattoo matches her own? Or is she already too late…
A completely gripping and emotional WW2 novel of one woman’s bravery and determination to hold on to hope in a world torn apart by war. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Alice Network and The Nightingale.
BUY LINK: https://geni.us/B0C9MRGVJFsocial
AUTHOR BIO:  Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels.
Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers. You can reach her on Facebook @annastuartauthor or Twitter @annastuartbooks.

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