I've never debated a book so much as this. How to review and how many stars? I went back and forth. There are two stories here, one in the present, the other in the past and both intertwine. Sera's story begins in present-day Manhattan. Sera is a gallery owner searching for a painting she fell in love with as a little girl. It's a haunting portrait of a young, beautiful cellist with a shaven head. Sera has always wondered about the girl in the picture. She has been searching her entire adult life for the original. The poignant piece of art is an obsession and it kept her mind busy when her world seemed to be falling apart, starting with the death of her beloved father. Then, Sera was cruelly left at the altar by a fiance she loved and trusted. Her faith in God's plan for her future shaken, she vows to guard her heart much more carefully, trusting no one in the aftermath of her heartbreak. Suddenly, to Sera's surprise, someone else is seeking the original painting and they've hired Sera's gallery to help locate the elusive piece of art. What is the connection? Why now?
Here's where I start rolling my eyes. Of course, the other person seeking the art work is a handsome would-be suitor. Naturally, the attraction is almost immediate and after a few silly, awkward misunderstandings, Sera and suitor are joined at the hip, having conversations that would never happen. No! I didn't believe this coupling for a second. After getting the seal of approval from William's (the suitor) entire RICH family, Sera and William can finally get down to the business of locating the original painting. As they search, the mystery behind the painting is slowly revealed. Here is the redeeming salvation. THIS is where the book draws the reader in and all at once, you know you're going to be emotionally absorbed in a story that has depth and meaning. This story belongs to Adele and it begins in Austria, when Jews were being hunted like prey, torn from their families and ripped from their homes.
Adele Von Bron is known as the Sweetheart of Austria, a talented cellist and the daughter of a high-ranking Third Reich member. She has lived a sheltered, privileged life but she has fallen in love with a penniless man, someone her parents would never allow her to marry. Adele meets Vladimir while playing in the orchestra. They have kept their love a secret and meet whenever they can. However, Vladimir is hiding dangerous activities from Adele, actions that could cost him his life if discovered. Vladimir has not told Adele these secrets because he doesn't want to involve her but once the shocking revelations are revealed to Adele by accident it only makes her love him more. Adele has been questioning the actions of the Third Reich and Hitler. How can one call oneself a Christian while so much suffering exists? Adele stands firm in her beliefs and faith and decides that she must do something important with her life, even if it betrays her own family and country. Knowing it's what God would want, Adele chooses to help Vladimir transport Jews to safety. But a terrifying incident will change her life forever and Adele will learn the full extent of the horrific atrocities taking place inside the concentration camps intended for millions of doomed Jews. Adele Von Bron, the darling of Austria, will be removed from the Austrian stages and forced to play for her life at the daily selections inside the gates of Auschwitz. Feeling forsaken by God, Adele must trust in God's plan and surrender control because even in the darkest corners of the terror that was Auschwitz, beauty could be found alive and well.
Both Sera and Adele must surrender to God's will and in doing so, each will find forgiveness and hope.
Although tragic and sad, Adele's story must be told. Cambron did a magnificent job here. Had the story been Adele's alone, I could've easily given this five stars. But, from one story to the next, I felt like I was reading from two different authors. Adele's story was honest, heartfelt, and truly believable. When it came to Sera, well, it just felt a bit silly and contrived. Overall, I would recommend this book. I think Adele's great portion of the storyline cancelled out the blah of the other.
*Thanks to NetGalley for sending me a digital copy in exchange for review. The opinions are mine alone.
Please enjoy the beautiful sounds of Janine Jansen playing Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor. (I imagine Adele's version was just as lovely, as she played one last time for the members of the Third Reich in the concert hall of Auschwitz.)