Disclaimer: Kate Breslin's books are war-time era stories. I do not promote war and do not feel like these books promote war either. They are a retelling of actual events or similar events to those that happened during WWI and WWII. These are fictional stories that show the effects of war on people's lives during this time.
For Such a Time
For Such a Time is one of the most emotional and moving novels I have ever read. This book is set during WWII and takes place at the transit camp of Theresienstadt. What would have happened if the biblical story of Esther actually took place during WWII? What if there had truly been an “Esther” for the Jews of the Holocaust? For Such a Time is a retelling of the biblical story in a different era and setting.
*Warning: this book describes many of the horrors of the war and how the Jewish people were treated. While I will say it can be hard to read, and will definitely stir some emotions, it is good to remember so we never let history repeat itself in that way again.
Onto the book…. Jewess Hadassah Benjamin (known as Stella) is saved from the firing squad and taken in by SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt as his secretary. She knows all too well what is happening to her people and she appeals to Aric to help them. The more he is around her, the more his heart is softened and his mind is awakened to the atrocities he is a part of. As the story develops, shadowing the events of the biblical narrative, Stella finds herself in a position to where she must give the ultimate sacrifice. Can Aric find redemption or will it be too late? Kate Breslin weaves a beautiful story, rich with historical facts and blends it seamlessly with the story of Esther to paint a beautiful picture of sacrifice and redemption. I’ll admit this was the first book I’ve read that took me on such an emotional journey that I was moved to tears.
Not By Sight
With this book Kate Breslin shifts from the time of WWII to WWI. The rest of her books are all involving events from WWI. They can be read as stand-alone novels, however I recommend reading them in order because the characters make cameos in subsequent books, and you’ll have an understanding of who is who.
Grace Mabry, a wealthy young suffragette, knows exactly who Jack Benningham is…..a coward. She isn’t a coward though, and she knows what she must do. Disguised at a masquerade ball, Grace presents Jack with a white feather of cowardice. That single action sets off a chain of events she could never have predicted. Both of their lives are forever changed.
How can Grace ever repair the damage she has done? This book, like all of Kate’s books, is jam-packed full of historical facts, but not in that "I feel like I’m in history class" sort of way. This is one of my favorite things about her books. I learn so much that I never knew before. But don’t worry, the history doesn’t overwhelm, it just sets the stage for the beautiful story between Jack and Grace. In addition to all the history tid-bits, you’ll find danger, intrigue, loyalty, forgiveness, romance and the courage to face fears and find faith again.
High as the Heavens
It's 1917 and everyone is affected by the war. Evelyn Marche, a widow from the war, has had her fair share of sorrows and she spends her days working two jobs. The war itself is dangerous enough, but now the secrets she carries have increased the danger around her even more. Eve is the first to site of a plane crash and is shocked when she recognizes the injured pilot. She knows she has to hide him before he is shot, and she will risk everything to help him survive.
Once again, Kate Breslin takes us on a thrilling ride from beginning to end. She brings to light the plight of those residing in Belgium during WWI.
The characters and their connections will keep you on your toes wondering how things can possibly work out. This story will tug at your heartstrings (so much I could say, but no spoilers here!) and keep you captivated throughout the whole book. Just when you think you know what will happen something else will take you on an entirely different course. It is full of rich characters and Ms. Breslin does an amazing job of showing their hearts during this difficult and emotional time. The way she writes lets you easily slip into the lives of the characters and feel the emotions they are experiencing whether its fear, anguish, anger, or hopelessness. I think some of my favorite characters are the ones created here in this book. High as the Heavens is another amazing read from one of my favorite authors.
Warning: Seeing as how this is a war-era book there is some war violence, but it is essential to the story.
Far Side of the Sea
This is the story of Lieutenant Colin Mabry and Johanna Reyer. Colin had been on the frontlines until he was injured, and now he is working for MI8. When a carrier pigeon sends him a message from a woman he loved and he thought was dead, he travels to France in hopes to make things right. After arriving in France, he finds out that the message wasn’t from his love, but instead it was from her half-sister, Johanna. They team up to find Johanna’s half-sister Jewel, testing the boundaries of their trust for each other and end up right in the middle of a dangerous scheme.
One thing that I love about Kate’s writing is that she veers away from the common knowledge of WWI and introduces us to different aspects of the Great War that, most likely, weren’t taught in your high school history class. In Far Side of the Sea Johanna works at a dovecote in France. I knew absolutely nothing about this part of the war before reading this book, but I learned a lot just from Kate’s descriptions. With her writing style you will be completely transported to this era and be able to visualize everything. Historical accuracy is a strong point of hers, and her books will captivate and transport you to wherever she wants you to go, in this case, France during the Great War. The accents, sights, sounds, and cultural elements are all on point. Far Side of the Sea is expertly crafted and overflowing with intrigue, espionage, suspense and unforeseen plot twists. In the world of spies, who can be trusted? These characters have major depth and their journeys of faith, both in each other and in God, make for a beautiful historical romance.
As Dawn Breaks
As Dawn Breaks is another beautifully written historical love story set during the Great War.
Rosalind Graham is being forced to marry a man she doesn’t love, by an uncle who doesn’t seem to love her. When the Chilwell factory explodes, Rose is believed to be among those counted dead. She sees this as her chance of escaping a life she doesn’t want and forging ahead under the assumed identity of her friend, Tilly Lockhart. Through unforeseen circumstances Rose finds herself renting a room from the Baird family in Gretna. The closer she grows to this family, the harder it is to keep up her deception, but she can’t afford to reveal the truth.
RAF Captain Alex Baird is on a secret mission back at his boyhood home in Gretna, Scotland. Alex feels like he has failed his family once before and he can’t let that happen again. As he spends time with “Tilly” his affections for her grow, but then he’s ordered to keep surveillance on her. His affections and his new assignment are warring against each other. I love that the setting takes place in Scotland. While a large part of the story takes place at the munitions factory, there are lots of details that bring the beautiful landscape of Scotland to light, and just the right amount of the Scottish burr is added to make it feel truly authentic, yet remaining understandable.
Alex and Rose are so similar in how they guard themselves and how they are both secretly longing for more. As Dawn Breaks is rich with fascinating historical detail, intrigue, suspense, romance, and the perfect amount of faith woven throughout….everything I’ve come to love and expect from a Kate Breslin book. BUT it also had some major surprises that I was not expecting. You are going to want to read this one and see what I’m talking about!