For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
Bethany House, 2014
As you all know, historical fiction is my favorite genre, particularly set during World War II. So when I heard about debut author Kate Breslin’s new book, I was immediately intrigued. Her novel retells the biblical story of Esther, yet it explores that story in the context of World War II. Sounds interesting, right?
As a blond, blue-eyed Jew, Stella Mueller’s appearance allows her to blend in and camaflouge herself behind her fair features. Her appearance may save her from the same fate as her people, but seeing them suffer causes her to question God. After everything she has endured and seen in this war, she struggles to hold on to her faith.
Colonel Aric von Schmidt rescues Stella from a firing squad and places her in his employ. He is a cold, severe man who is bound by duty, yet Stella sees the compassion that is hidden in the depths of his heart.
Just as Stella can see his compassion, Aric sees so much good in Stella. He sees innocence and hope. He sees the chance to start over and escape from the life he now leads. He wants freedom and he can nearly grasp it when Stella walks into his life.
As Stella and Aric face their personal struggles, will they win the battles they face? Or are they doomed to become victims of war?
Rating: 4 stars
*I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*
Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther
In 1944, blonde 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?