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The Rainbow: Absolutely heartbreaking World War 2 historical fiction based on a true story Kindle Edition
Inspired by an incredible true story. Fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, We Were the Lucky Ones and The Choice will love this heartbreaking novel of love, betrayal and a secret passed down through a family.
Nazi-occupied Poland, 1940. When soldiers drag Tomasz back to his family’s farm, they put a gun to his head and tell him he must join the German army, or see his loved ones forced into the camps. Staring into the wide blue eyes of his childhood sweetheart Zofia, Tomasz does the only thing he can. Over the course of the war, he will risk his life, love and the respect of his own people, to secretly fight for good against evil. All the while, he longs to be reunited with Zofia… but will his brave choices tear them apart forever?
London, present day. Isla has grown up wearing her grandfather’s rainbow scarf, a beloved memento from the Second World War, and hearing his stories about his time as a young soldier bravely fighting the Germans to protect his people. But as she is collecting photos for his 95th birthday celebration, she finds an old photograph of two men standing in Nazi uniforms, next to a folded piece of paper… a newspaper article, written in German. She knows that name.
Her grandfather is too weak to answer questions, so Isla begins her hunt for the truth.
There is so much she doesn’t know. And what she learns about a love story and a secret from seventy years ago will change her own life forever…
Readers absolutely love The Rainbow:
‘Wow!! Just wow!!… This book is brilliant! More than brilliant, amazing!!!… Absolutely gripping, addictive and captivating… I was absolutely hooked from the first page to the last. Everybody should put The Rainbow on their reading list for 2021!!’ NetGalley reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Phenomenal… it is truly a must-read. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, it is an amazing, unputdownable must-read. I wish I could give it more than five stars.’ Page Turners, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Will rip your heart out… It has heartache, pain, loss, joy, and sorrow. It’s a great WWII historical fiction… heartbreaking.’ Books Read By Prairie Girl
‘Beautiful, heartfelt book! It’s seriously the best book I've read all month! The writing was brilliant. Captivating… Simply heart-breaking… I loved everything about this book! So beautifully done!’ @oh.happy.reading, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Wow! This book was absolutely amazing. I could not quit reading it. I highly recommend everyone pick this book up. It is one of the BEST I’ve read this year.’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Hooks you right away and makes you wonder what is going to happen next. Pulls at your heart strings in all the right ways.’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- ASIN : B09494NX92
- Publisher : Bookouture (28 July 2021)
- Language : English
- File size : 2937 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 342 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1800198108
- Best Sellers Rank: 1,140 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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The important matter which seemed incongruent was the temporal setting of the author's fact-finding missions to Poland to visit ageing relatives, who piecemeal would help reveal lost elements of her grandfather's life, loves and exploits. A little of the credulity of the story is spoilt for me where elderly relatives and friends in Poland are driving cars and living active social lives (as are most of their myriad friends and contacts), while the author's grandfather (the youngest of his siblings) remains in England in a physically and cognitively frail condition.......like really? Supporting this, is the implied age of these characters. If, as seems, the author's story of discovery was set circa, say 2010 (?), and these relatives were early mid twenties during WWII, then all all be in their 90's when her expeditions to Poland are undertaken......so for me there is this temporal dissonance which detracts from an otherwise enjoyable storyline.
A moving read that anyone who enjoys historical novels will enjoy. I look forward to reading the next novel by the author.
The story begins with in Isla in 2015 England on a visit with her grandparents when she comes across a rainbow coloured silk scarf and an old newspaper clipping of two men, one of whom is her grandfather Tomasz Jasienski dressed in a German Nazi uniform. But this can't be right! Her granddad is Polish. He fought in the Polish army, not the Nazis. Maybe it is another Tomasz Jasienski. But the photo is clearly her granddad, of that Isla is certain. She cannot ask him as he is in the late-mid stages of dementia and while some days are lucid, many are not, and the last thing she wants to do is upset him by stirring up old memories. Then when her grandmother deflects any questions she asks, it merely arouses her curiosity.
And so begins Isla's quest for answers, for information about her grandfather's past and what really happened in that photo. All she has is the name and an address of her granddad's brother whom he has not seen or spoken to in seventy years and while they may have been estranged, Andrezj sent his brother a yearly Christmas card up until five years ago. Is he still alive? There was only one way to find out. Isla travels to Poland in search of Andrezj and the answers for which she seeks. She finds the gruff 99 year old living in a sheltered retirement home where he gives her some diaries that had been her grandfather's during the war.
Returning to England, Isla has the diaries translated from her grandfather's native Polish and through them she journeys back with Tomasz as a young boy in 1930 through to WW2, when he was forced into the German army.
The perspective then changes as we meet Tomasz in the summer of 1930 as a ten year old boy who meets a gypsy named Kapaldi living in a colourful caravan on a neighbouring farmer's land. To Tomasz, Kapaldi was a magical man who could make it rain and create rainbows. The first time Tomasz ever saw Kapaldi, he was dancing naked with nothing but a rainbow scarf around his neck. The same rainbow scarf Isla found in her grandfather's attic. She remembers the tales she was told as a girl about a magical man and rainbows that she thought were just fairy tales. When one day, Tomasz comes to see Kapaldi he finds some of the local lads beating him and taunting him so he jumps on the farmer Kowalski's tractor and makes way towards the young thugs hurting his friend. The lads scarpered in fear and Kapaldi thanked young Tomasz for saving his life. He promised him that he now owes him a debt and that one day he will save Tomasz's life too.
It was the summer of 1930 that Tomasz also met the young Zofia at a carnival where he won her a little wooden heart. Zofia kept the little heart as a reminder of happier times when in 1939 Poland was invaded by the Germans and life became even harder for the Polish. The couple are now 19 and in declaring their love, Tomasz tells Zofia he plans to ask her father permission to marry her and together they plan their future together. But then Tomasz is taken by the Nazis and forced to fight alongside them for the Reich. It is during a harrowing time in which they were to round up a group of partisans working against them that Tomasz tossed a grenade and killed them. The sight of the bodies with their innards spilling out etched into his memory forever. He is whisked away to the office of Captain Liebenez, who had seconded him to the German army in the first place, and awarded Tomasz the Iron Cross for his bravery for which the two men were photographed and immortalised forever in a newspaper clipping found wrapped in a silk scarf some seventy years later.
As a reward for his bravery and loyalty to the Reich, Tomasz was given the easier task of translator away from the frontline of battle, although he was often ridiculed by his peers and those above his rank as well as the public. Why? Because he was Polish. It was often heard said "Stupid Pole" and even the boarding house in which Liebenez installed him, the caretaker landlady said to him "Poles not welcome here" and he had to find somewhere else to eat, which left him wandering the unfamiliar streets in which he often found himself lost. On these occasions he found himself conjuring up the image of Kapaldi who then helped him find his way back. But he had seemed to so real, was it just his imagination or had he truly seen Kapaldi? They hadn't crossed paths in many years but somehow Tomasz always knew Kapaldi was there watching over him.
And then when a tragic even occurs that numbs Tomasz even further from which he feels he will never recover, he feels that Liebenez has been playing games with him all along and doesn't have his best interests at heart at all. Then Liebenez is promoted to Major whilst unbeknownst to Tomasz, his beloved Zofia is unwittingly caught up in the Major's games as well. Tomasz is now a broken man and on the last page of his diaries he writes..."What have I done?"
Intrigued even further by the ambiguity of her grandfather's final words on those pages, Isla travels back to Poland in the hope of uncovering the meaning behind those words. What had happened for her grandfather to have berated himself with those four words? This journey takes her even further into Poland back to where her grandfather grew up and it is there she meets Zofia, her grandfather's first love. And the truth of what really happened beyond those final words is finally revealed...as are the secrets of the past.
Based on a true story that was seven years in the making, THE RAINBOW is as emotional as it is heartbreaking. The plight in which young Polish boys faced at being forced into the German army is a little known fact that I had no idea about. The Nazis were cruel to almost everyone, even amongst themselves at times, in their quest for a pure Aryan race and their belief that they could do anything they wanted to anyone they chose. And the higher their rank the more entitled they were. This is seen in Major Liebenez and the games he played with Tomasz and Sofia. He seemed to be their friend but to him they were just a means to an end. I loathed him.
Tomasz, whilst the hero of the story, is not your regular hero. And he certainly doesn't consider himself to be one. He is an ordinary man with flaws. He lives in fear, he's made decisions that could put his life in jeopardy, choices that could be wrong and while there is nothing extraordinary about him, what he has been through is unthinkable. And as an old man approaching 95, Isla begins to wonder considering what he has lived through...is his dementia a curse or a blessing?
As for Isla herself. We don't know much about her. We know she is a lawyer but that in itself doesn't define her. What is important is her granddad and the truth behind the photo she found in the attic. Unlike most heroines of a story, particularly those who are lawyers, she doesn't focus on her life or career but on emotions and what it must have felt like to live through all that her grandfather and later Zofia lived through. The war was another time, another era, something that is beyond the realms of today's generation and yet Isla found herself immersed within the past and the emotional journey she took to uncover the secrets that had been lost to time.
THE RAINBOW is a beautiful story and heartbreaking at the same time that the author drew references from a true story that belongs to her own family. It is a bittersweet tale that the reader will find it hard not to shed tears. For me, it was the threat of losing those memories forever locked inside a mind that was slowly disappearing. Dementia is a cruel and unprejudiced disease that steals memories from the living to remain locked in the past unless they are detailed before they are lost forever. I didn't find Tomasz to be in the late stages of dementia as he was still lucid enough to regale Isla with the final chapter of his story and a late stage sufferer would barely able to talk let alone recall sporadic memories. I saw him as late-mid stage as it's the final stages that are the most heartbreaking of all.
There was one aspect I didn't really warm to in the story and one which I felt no connection to. For me, it didn't belong there in the way it was portrayed but would have been better served in another connection to the story. I won't say in what capacity so as not to spoil it.
A poignant read that carries through the generations, THE RAINBOW is a tale of family, love and lost secrets. Perfect for fans of historical WW2 fiction.
I'd already guessed how Tomasz came to be in a German uniform as the enforced conscription of Polish youths into the German army was known to me. This fate befell some of my relatives. Like Tomasz, they eventually made it to Scotland and joined the Allied fight against the Nazis. So, I was eager to read The Rainbow but totally unprepared for how emotionally invested I became in Tomasz's story. The lovely dedication brought tears to my eyes even before I'd plunged into the story proper.
This is a beautifully written story that will tug at your heartstrings from the beginning, especially as one of the characters has dementia. As Isla delves into the past she will uncover a tale of love, sacrifice, survival, courage and loss. There is also a touch of magic as the significance of the rainbow coloured scarf is revealed.
The Rainbow is one of the finest World War II novels I've read this year. It is an engrossing and moving experience drawn from the author's family history and one I highly recommend.
Top reviews from other countries
I truly cannot recommend this book enough and truly hope others enjoy it as much as I did .