22gigantes.com - 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 Bölz 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 homefront, this is an unforgettable novel of courage and resolve, of the inhumanity of war, and the heartbreak and hope left in its wake. Advance Praise For Ellen Marie Wiseman'sThe Plum Tree"The Plum Tree is a touching story of heroism and loss, a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of love to transcend the most unthinkable circumstances. Deft storytelling and rich characters make this a highly memorable read and a worthy addition to the narratives of the Holocaust and Second World War." --Pam Jenoff, author of The Ambassador's Daughter"A haunting and beautiful debut novel." --Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August"In The Plum Tree, Ellen Marie Wiseman boldly explores the complexities of the Holocaust. This novel is at times painful, but it is also a satisfying love story set against the backdrop of one of the most difficult times in human history." --T. Greenwood, author of Two Rivers
Most helpful customer reviews 183 of 189 people found the following review helpful. A thumping good read By B. Claypole White I'll be honest, I had mixed feelings about reading The Plum Tree. As the wife of a Jew and the mother of a teenager who would have been considered impure by the Nazis, I struggle with anything that circles the Holocaust. However, as a Brit, I grew up on firsthand stories of hardship during the Second World War. It was always the stories of everyday actions--some heroic, some not--that resonated with me. And this is what I loved most about The Plum Tree--the level of detail that allows readers to experience the lives of ordinary Germans during a moment in history that was anything but ordinary.And yet The Plum Tree is much more than just a glimpse into rural family life during the evils of the Nazi regime. It's also a thumping good read--a hopeful story of survival, courage, and resilience. Christine is a fabulous heroine, and once I hit the half-way mark, you could not have wrestled her from me with a crowbar.I hate spoilers, so I'll only say this: The novel is not over once the Allies liberate Germany. The plot twists and the shades of grey layered into Christine's story kept me engrossed until the last page. As her father says, "War makes victims all."I highly recommend this wonderful debut novel. 164 of 172 people found the following review helpful. Beautiful story By Courtney "Christine, I want you to understand something. War makes perpetrators of some, criminals of others, and victims of everyone. Not all of the soldiers on the front are fighting for Hitler and his ideals. Just because a soldier is in the battle, doesn't mean that he believes in the war."The Plum Tree is a story of a young girl (Christine) and her family during WWII and the Nazi occupation of Germany. Beyond that, it is a tale of love and survival, of loss and strength, and a tale of hope. It is historical fiction, woven with a tale of romance between a young German girl and a young German Jew at the height of the terror in Nazi-occupied Germany.We have all learned about WWII, Nazi Germany, the concentration camps, and the horrors that befell Jews in Eastern Europe during Hitler's reign; however, this book brought this rich and terrifying history to life through the eyes of a young German girl and her family in ways that I had not experienced before. This is the first book that I have read from a German viewpoint rather than that of a concentration-camp or German Jew's perspective. And the story was chilling.Christine is a sympathetic protagonist who was easy to identify with. When the book opens, she is only 17 and is in love with a young Jewish boy from a well-to-do family. Predictably (although I don't mean this as a slight), their world changes when the war begins and Jewish families are targeted by Hitler and his men.We follow Christine through the changes in her hometown (including air raids, bombings, rationing of food, destruction, Jewish families being whisked away in the night to work campus, street shootings, and unspeakable violence). We often are not sure what has come of Christine's father (who was sent off to fight in the army) or Isaac, Christine's love who is likely sent away for being Jewish.Ellen Marie Wiseman writes this novel from personal experience- as a first generation German-American, Ellen Marie spent much of her life between Germany and America, and heard many tales from family members who lived during this time and experienced these unspeakable horrors. This gives the novel a freshness and a truthfulness that is easy to see.To say you loved this book feels wrong- it is haunting and heartbreaking and horrific- but it is also a lovely tale of young love and the heroism and spirit of a young German girl living in an unspeakably cruel world in a horrible period in Germany's history. That being said, this book is certainly a new favorite of mine and will be cherished forever. Although I thought I knew a great deal about this time period, WWII and Nazi-Occupied Germany, I was wrong. The perspective and the details from this story will undoubtedly stay with me forever. 61 of 64 people found the following review helpful. Terrific debut for Ellen Marie Wiseman! By Book Hoarder This is the story of Christine, a young German girl and her true love, Isaac, a Jewish fellow from a wealthy family. Other primary characters include Christine's very likable family, secondary characters being Isaac's family, Christine's friend Kate and various villagers. The story is set in a small village in Nazi-occupied Germany during WW2 which is my favorite period of history.The story follows Christine's romance with Isaac and her family's struggles through the war which includes bombings, hunger, death and concentration camps--all of the horrific events that occurred in WW2. As the story advances, we see how the war changes Christine, how she copes and reigns over tragedy and hardship. It is very hard to put this book down.The beauty of a good WW2 novel is in the details, and this author certainly provides the reader with a plethora of authentic details. It made my heart sing when she named four of my very favorite WW2 novels (THOSE WHO SAVE US, SKELETONS AT THE FEAST, THE BOOK THIEF and SARAH'S KEY) in the acknowledgements as being books she relied upon in her research. She also acknowledged FRAUEN: GERMAN WOMEN RECALL THE THIRD REICH which is fantastically interesting. Every time I read a WW2 novel about the day-to-day life of the average German, I learn more than I knew before, and this author really provided a lot of new fascinating details. It is most heartwarming to know that many of them came from her German mother and family.My only criticism is that I think I would have liked to see Christine be less emotional. True, she experienced one hardship and struggle after another... I simply felt that she was too much of a crybaby at times for the heroine that she truly was. This is my personal preference, though; other readers may have no problem with it. Otherwise, this is a really terrific debut novel, and I will recommend it to many others! See all 1457 customer reviews...
From Booklist In the calm before the storm, Christine Bölz soaks in an idyllic morning in her small German town, basking in her new relationship with Isaac Bauerman, son of the wealthy Jewish family in whose house she works as a domestic servant. The glow of their new love is quickly tested as Hitler’s armies begin to move, and restrictions are placed on interactions between Jews and non-Jews. Spanning the pre- to postwar years, the novel follows Christine and her family as they endure the hardships of war. Persevering through threats from the Gestapo and the horrors of Dachau, Christine keeps her hopes for a future with Isaac alive. Although the major story line is supposed to be the love story between Christine and Isaac, their relationship develops too quickly, and the level of commitment they have for one another seems out of sync. Considerable time and attention are devoted to quotidian activities of country life and to describing setting and scenery. Readers who like slower-paced sentimental novels set during WWII will enjoy this novel. --Eve Gaus "The Holocaust was a horrendous time in world history, and Wiseman has added a personal touch on this era." ---VOYA About the Author Ellen Marie Wiseman's debut novel, THE PLUM TREE, was released by Kensington Publishing on December 25th, 2012 and received much praise for its depiction of WWII through the eyes of an average working-class German family. It was named One of BookBub's Thirteen Books to Read if You Loved ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. Her second novel, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, released in 2013 and was named a Huffington Post Best Books of Summer 2015. Her third novel, COAL RIVER was released in November 2015. A mother and grandmother, Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband and dogs. Her novels have been published in eleven countries. Find Ellen on Facebook at: Facebook.com/EllenMarieWisemanAuthor
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