Author: Ellen Marie Wiseman
Published: February 2013
What They Say: A deeply moving and masterfully written story of human resilience and enduring love, The Plum Tree follows a young German woman through the chaos of World War II and its aftermath.
“Bloom where you’re planted,” is the advice Christine Bolz receives from her beloved Oma. But seventeen-year-old domestic Christine knows there is a whole world waiting beyond her small German village. It’s a world she’s begun to glimpse through music, books—and through Isaac Bauerman, the cultured son of the wealthy Jewish family she works for.
Yet the future she and Isaac dream of sharing faces greater challenges than their difference in stations. In the fall of 1938, Germany is changing rapidly under Hitler’s regime. Anti-Jewish posters are everywhere, dissenting talk is silenced, and a new law forbids Christine from returning to her job—and from having any relationship with Isaac. In the months and years that follow, Christine will confront the Gestapo’s wrath and the horrors of Dachau, desperate to be with the man she loves, to survive—and finally, to speak out.
Set against the backdrop of the German home front, this is an unforgettable novel of courage and resolve, of the inhumanity of war, and the heartbreak and hope left in its wake.
What Elaine Says: I'm going to sound incredibly harsh when I say that as a debut novel, The Plum Tree, unfortunately, smacks off effort.
This story is clearly very personal to the author but it just felt hugely overworked. This is a story that can't help but touch your heart (a young German girl ripped from her family and sent to Dachau for loving a Jewish boy) but unfortunately it's riddled with cliches and overwrought prose that actually end up doing the opposite of their intention and detract the reader from the story.
Wiseman has a great story to tell here and it always interesting to take something so familiar and show us another angle. I feel it is brave and honest debut for which Wiseman should be given credit but unfortunately this really just wasn't for me.
Please note this was an advanced review copy
Elaine's Rating: 3/10
“I want you to understand something. War makes perpetrators of some, criminals of others, and victims of everyone. Just because a soldier is in the battle, doesn't mean that he believes in the war.”