The Orphan’s Mother is an all consuming, powerful and deeply moving wartime narrative. This is the second novel I have had the privilege of reading and reviewing from Marion Kummerow as last year I read her poignant novel Not Without My Sister, which left a deep impression on me. Yet again The Orphan’s Mother has had a visceral reaction on me as it explores the devastating impact of war on families, especially the impact on innocent children.
This powerful story begins in early 1945 in the Polish town of Łódź (Lodz in English), a town where Poles and Germans had mingled mostly in peace together for centuries. Emma, a German has lived in Lodz all her life, growing up there, marrying there, bringing up her beloved children Sophie and Jacob there. With her husband away fighting on the German frontline and the Russian Red Army fast approaching to liberate Poland from German occupation, Emma decides to flee her home with her children. She knows that to ensure the safety of her family she needs to cross the border.
The novel is also set in the Polish town Poznań where Irena, a Polish nurse, having suffered at the brutal hands of the Nazis, is desperate for the Red Army to liberate her country. Emma and her children arrive in Poznań as refugees. This town only means to be a stop on the family’s journey but four year old Jacob becomes increasingly ill. Emma has no choice but to take Jacob to the hospital. Emma is refused entry into the hospital so reluctantly hands Jacob over to a nurse, knowing that this is her son’s only chance of survival. That nurse is Irena.
The next day Emma is determined to return to the hospital to retrieve Jacob but as the Red Army enters the town, the Battle of Poznań commences. All the refugees have to flee the town and all the patients also have to flee the hospital. Irena detests the Germans and all they have done to her and her country, yet she knows she cannot leave Jacob, an innocent four year old German boy to the fate of the Red Army.
Yes, this novel is predictable, especially as the title is The Orphan’s Mother. But this is a powerful and important story that needs to be predictable, especially as it is inspired by true life events.
Marion Kummerow’s writing is concise, captivating and emotionally charged. I was so consumed by her powerful story that I read The Orphan’s Mother in a day (and believe me, as I’m not the quickest reader, that is something I don’t think I have ever done before).
Yet again Marion Kummerow introduced me to an element of World War 2 that I have never really explored before. When she began writing this powerful novel the devastating war in Ukraine had not started. However it is horrifying to realise that The Orphan’s Mother resonates with what is happening in the world today. This is why historical fiction is so important.
Thank you to Sarah Hardy from Bookouture for inviting me to the blog tour of The Orphan’s Mother which is released today (29 July 2022). This is a heart wrenching World War 2 novel inspired by fact that completely consumed me. I really couldn’t put it down. The characters and their fates are unforgettable.
To follow the blog tour, please see below.