The Other Girl (novella) by Pam Jenoff

other girl

One woman’s determination to protect a child from the dangers of war will force her to face those lurking closer to home…

Life in rural Poland during WWII brings a new set of challenges to Maria, estranged from her own family and left alone with her in-laws after her husband is sent to the front. For a young, newly pregnant wife, the days are especially cold, the nights unexpectedly lonely. The discovery of a girl hiding in the barn changes everything—Hannah is fleeing the German police who are taking Jews like her to special camps. Ignoring the risk to her own life and that of her unborn child, Maria is compelled to help. But in these dark days, no one can be trusted, and soon Maria finds her courage tested in ways she never expected and herself facing truths about her own family that the quiet village has kept buried for years…

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Publisher and Release Date: MIRA 1st September 2014
RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Poland, World War II
Genre: Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Maggi

Pam Jenoff is a favorite author of mine. Her latest release, The Other Girl is a short novella, a companion piece to the full-length novel, The Winter Guest. Although I have yet to read the novel, I found this an enthralling and thought-provoking look at villagers riven by war.

Maria is a character who engenders sympathy. She has left the family home disapproving of her father’s actions and married in haste. Now, a husband she barely knows has gone away to war, leaving her with her unaffectionate in-laws. Now living in a small Polish village, she is quite isolated and struggles to understand the undercurrent of fear and uncertainty wrought by the German occupation. There are secrets concerning Maria’s family which she must uncover. With only a touch of the brush in this short story, Jenoff brings her characters to life. Hannah, the young girl Maria discovers hiding in the barn is fleeing the German police who are taking Jews like her away to special camps. I found Hannah’s acceptance of her situation, and how she deals with it, quite moving.

If you like to read World War II fiction, I would certainly suggest this one, but to appreciate this companion piece even more, I would suggest reading The Winter Guest.

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