This is the story of two children caught in the midst of war.It is 1939 and thirteen-year-old Ilse, half-Jewish, has been sent out of Germany by her Aryan mother to a place of supposed safety. Her journey takes her from the labyrinthine bazaars of Morocco to Paris, a city made hectic at the threat of Nazi invasion. At the same time in Germany, Nicolai, a boy miserably destined for the Nazi Youth movement, finds comfort in the friendship of Ilse’s mother, the nursemaid hired to take care of his young sister. Gripping and poignant, The Children’s War is a stunning novel of wartime lives, of parents and children, of adventure and self-discovery.
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"Children never write the histories of war, and yet it is their lives - so malleable, so vulnerable - that are often most changed by it. By shifting her gaze to a child's eye view, Monique Charlesworth has given us a completely original retelling of some of the familiar stories of World War II. A literary page turner, vivid, engaging and suspenseful."
- Geraldine Brooks, author of Year of Wonders
"In this absorbing story of children who have to grow up too fast and parents who are less than perfect, Monique Charlesworth explores, with sensitivity and insight, the poignant drama of youth in a time of war. Vividly detailed, historically informed and emotionally restrained, The Children's War breathes a well-earned authenticity, even as it recounts circumstances that test human character to belief-defying limits."
- Eva Hoffman, author of Lost in Translation
"In this vivid and panoramic novel, objects take on emblematic powers. A gift of polished silver foretells a family's dissolution; letters torn to shreds reveal a father's tragic incapacity. One rejoices in the wealth of detail, and, above all, the moral agility of the irresistible red-headed Ilse - her tender and triumphant awareness, and her capacity to unpuzzle and survive the lethal mazes of Nazism. The Children's War is a wonderful novel."
- Rikki Ducornet, author of Gazelle
"Moving . . . With Ilse as unblinking guide, Charlesworth travels the morally ambiguous alleyways of war to create a deeply satisfying read full of richly complicated characters."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Charlesworth's prose masterfully sustains a tension between the sense of impending doom and the main characters' dreamy and often childlike perceptions. The novel powerfully conveys both the horror and the banality of war through adolescent eyes. Highly recommended."
- Reba Leiding, Library Journal
In the spring of 1939, on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, a girl sits in a waiting room in Marseilles. Ilse is half Jewish; her mother has sent her out of Germany to a place she hopes will afford her daughter absolute safety. But instead, Ilse's journey takes her deep into the landscape of war: first to Morocco, then to Paris under the threat of Nazi invasion. Traveling across borders, blown by circumstances beyond her control, Ilse must use her wits to survive an enemy occupation, one that steals away her name and sense of self, making even her own language taboo.
At the same time, in Germany, a boy struggles with his place in the Hitler Youth. Despite the comforts of his Hamburg home, Nicolai comes to feel that he is a stranger in his own land. As his mother takes up with another man, Nicolai finds emotional refuge in a growing attachment to his beautiful new nursemaid, a woman of silences and sorrows. Gradually, he draws out her secret: she has a child whom she fears may be lost to her forever. That child is Ilse.
The Children's War evokes wartime lives and places with astonishing immediacy: the labyrin-thine bazaars of Meknes; Hamburg's cellars packed with civilians during air raids; the salt tang of Marseilles, where prostitutes and gangsters live side by side with freedom fighters and refugees. We meet "Swing Boys" sneaking tobacco and home-distilled liquor in illicit jazz cafes, and young soldiers stirring pea soup beside tents on the sandy Baltic coast.
Meticulously researched, yet also a vivid work of imagination, The Children's War re-creates the landscape of World War II in a new and utterly unforgettable way. Interweaving the stories of Ilse and of Nicolai, it is a gripping tale of adventure, loyalty, love and betrayal; of disappointment and hope; of parents and children trying to protect one another; of self-discovery. It is a stunning novel.
"From the Hardcover edition.
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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR003944814
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Bookseller Inventory # GOR008397727