In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.
Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?
A Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives with her husband, John, and a very spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written several travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her first manuscript, a Scottish historical romance, was finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. These days, when she’s not writing inspirational fiction or spending time with her author friends, she’s avidly reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following John’s musical career as his #1 fan. An avid “tree-hugger” she often enjoys long walks in the forests and playing in the garden–growing all kinds of flowers and herbs, especially those that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Kate’s also a traveler – she and John have toured most of Washington state and many places in the U.S. With her intrepid mom as traveling companion, Kate’s also been abroad – Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, even a day trip to Turkey. Her next story takes place in Western Europe. Could another “research trip” be in the offing . . . ?
I have read a lot of books this year that have been set in Europe during WWII. Most have been good, but Kate Breslin’s novel, For Such A Time, ranks as one of the best. While the degradation and abuses of the concentration camps are highlighted, Breslin manages to infuse enough hope to make the story sing with the love and faithfulness of God. Certainly a must read for those who love historical novels, I will heartily recommend For Such A Time to all who want a moving read.
Aric Von Schmidt, a camp commandant on his way to Theresienstadt, rescues Stella Muller from execution at Dachau. Her indomitable spirit and beauty touch him in a way that he believed nothing could again. Bitter and hardened to the atrocities of war, he nevertheless reaches out to save her. Stella, though, has a very dangerous secret. Her false papers and her Aryan features label her as a true German. She maintains her identity in order to survive and hopefully to be the salvation of those who have no hope. The ghetto of Theresienstadt holds terror, abuse and despair for all those who enter and only certain death to those who leave. Through Stella’s daring, her uncle’s vision and Aric’s sacrifice, many might be saved from extermination.
For Such A Time is a beautifully written account of the dark history of murder, terror and abuse that the Jews and others deemed undesirable had to endure at the hands of the Nazis. And while I knew the history well, it was still a startling and heartbreaking story that unfolded in the pages of this book. Difficult to read, it was also a wonderful testament to the will to survive and the deep faith in a good and gracious God in the midst of trial. I found the characters well-developed with poignant backstories that, while not lessening their crimes, made them seem terribly human in their motivations. Based on the biblical book of Esther, the novel portrays great courage and faith in God’s deliverance. Unfortunately, the story is fictional. The great escape never occurred. The author shares the facts in the Afterword, making the story all the more tragic.
My favorite part of the book is the verses that Stella finds in her mysteriously appearing Bible. Speaking directly to her plight, she finds comfort where none seems to exist. And her memories of best friend Marta sharing the gospel will encourage the reader in his/her own encounters with those who need to know God’s love.
A wonderful novel that transcends the historical genre, I highly recommend For Such A Time.
Great For Book Clubs.
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(Thanks to Bethany House Publishing and TLC Tours for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)