Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: Karolina's Twins

Karolina’s Twins
Liam and Catherine #3
by Ronald H. Balson

Why did you choose this book? I’ve been on a WWII streak this summer
When did you read this book? July 2016
Who should read this book? readers of WWII era fiction
Source: publisher
Here is a synopsis of Karolina’s Twins from Goodreads

From the author of Once We Were Brothers comes a saga inspired by true events of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to fulfill a promise, return to Poland and find two sisters lost during World War II.

Lena Woodward, an elderly woman, enlists the help of both lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart to appraise the story of her harrowing past in Nazi occupied Poland. At the same time, Lena’s son Arthur presents her with a hefty lawsuit under the pretense of garnering her estate—and independence—for his own purposes. Where these stories intersect is through Lena’s dubious account of her life in war-torn Poland, and her sisterhood with a childhood friend named Karolina. Lena and Karolina struggled to live through the atrocity of the Holocaust, and at the same time harbored a courageous, yet mysterious secret of maternity that has troubled Lena throughout her adult life. In telling her story to Catherine and Liam, Lena not only exposes the realities of overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, she also comes to terms with her own connection to her dark past.

Karolina’s Twins is a tale of survival, love, and resilience in more ways than one. As Lena recounts her story, Catherine herself also recognizes the unwavering importance of family as she prepares herself for the arrival of her unborn child. Through this association and many more, both Lena and Catherine begin to cherish the dogged ties that bind not only families and children, but the entirety of mankind.

My Review

I have been reading a lot of fiction set during WWII in the past year, and Karolina’s Twins has been compared favorably to many of the books I’ve enjoyed, so when the publisher offered advance copies, it was a no-brainer for me to request it. To be honest, though I wanted to read it and expected to like it, I also expected that because I’ve loved so many of the WWII novels I’ve read, this one would be good, but nothing special. I was wrong — this one is among the best I’ve read! It is not only a WWII story, but also has an element of mystery and romance!

Lena Woodward is a Polish Jew, and survivor of the holocaust, now living in Chicago. Karolina was her best friend from pre-war Poland, and Lena is convinced she needs to fulfill a promise she made to Karolina over 70 years ago — to find the twins that were lost to her during the war. To this end she engages a private investigator -attorney team; Liam Taggert and Catherine Lockhart, who also happen to be a husband-wife team. There is a complication however; Lena is now a wealthy widow with a son, Arthur,  who is seeking guardianship over Lena’s financial matters, claiming she is senile and delusional, and in need of protection from those who would exploit her (Catherine and Liam).

As Catherine and Liam gather information in an effort to learn the fate of the twins and defend Lena from her son’s lawsuit, Lena must revisit her wartime experiences and reveal secrets she’s suppressed for 70 years. This is not always easy to read — we are dealing with the Nazis! — but knowing that Lena survived to tell her story made it a little easier to read through the hard parts. This is going to make a GREAT book club selection with discussions not only about WWII and the Nazi cruelties, but also about choices made by Lena and those around her. This story is going to stick with me for a long time!

And in case you have concerns about this being the third book of a series, I want you to know that I have read neither of the previous books and this one works very well as a stand alone, so enjoy!

My Rating:  ★★★★★    5 Stars

I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book from St. Martin’s Press through  Reading Group Gold.
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