All her life, Zofia has found comfort in two things during times of hardship: books and her best friend, Janina. But no one could have imagined the horrors of the Nazi occupation in Warsaw. As the bombs rain down and Hitler’s forces loot and destroy the city, Zofia finds that now books are also in need of saving.
With the death count rising and persecution intensifying, Zofia jumps to action to save her friend and salvage whatever books she can from the wreckage, hiding them away, and even starting a clandestine book club. She and her dearest friend never surrender their love of reading, even when Janina is forced into the newly formed ghetto.
But the closer Warsaw creeps toward liberation, the more dangerous life becomes for the women and their families – and escape may not be possible for everyone. As the destruction rages around them, Zofia must fight to save her friend and preserve her culture and community using the only weapon they have left - literature.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 1, 2023
by Hanover Square Press
Madeline Martin has been one of my go to authors ever since reading The Last Bookshop in London. Along with The Librarian Spy, she has placed herself in my auto reads for World War II fiction, based on fact.
The Keeper of Hidden Books takes place in Warsaw, told from the point of view of 18 year old Zofia. Zofia is an avid reader, she works in a library and best friends with a Jewish family.
This was a interesting story coming in at over 400 pages. Having read enough WW2 fiction over the years this was a nice refreshing change and highlighted the importance of books during this war. As the Germans slowly strip away those closest to her, friends and family and watching the travesty unfold in her beautiful country leaves her wanting to fight back. She does so in a way that I have never read about before. She has her books and together with others, they preserve those that Hitler deems unacceptable. What follow is a story of dedication, heartache, perseverance and strength.
The author notes at the end was something I was looking forward to, mostly to confirm that the librarians in this part of the book was based on fact, and I love that was.
The power of books still endured though such a horrible time in history.