Tuesday, 9 October 2018

REVIEW - THE GIRL FROM BERLIN - LIAM TAGGART & CATHERINE LOCKHART BY RONALD H BALSON

Title: The Girl From Berlin
Series: Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart 5
Author: Ronald H Balson
Publisher: St Martins Press
Release Date: 9th October 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.



REVIEW
This book was brought to my attention by Staci, a publicist at St Martins Publishing and I have to say thank you so much Staci I totally adored this book and its characters. I have read quite a few books set around the time of World War 2 and the Holocaust, both non fiction, and fiction that is based on documentation from that era. I read the blurb for the book and though I was initially a little put off because this is book 5 in the Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart Series but each book is based on a different case that Private Detective Liam and Attorney Catherine are involved with.

The cover shows a woman standing looking out of a large window which upon reading the book could easily be one or more scenes from within the book. I'll be totally honest I am not sure this cover would make me want to pick it up from a bookstore shelf, though the blurb itself would really draw me into wanting to read the book.

The genres listed for this book are historical fiction, mystery, and thrillers. I would also add suspense, war, and holocaust to describe its genre and content. You can tell this author has done their research and the book comes across as very realistic. When you have read other titles based in and around World War 2 and the Holocaust. To me it is this type of book that keeps the relevance and horror of the Holocaust alive and make sure this information is passed on and down through the generations.

I fell in love with the character of Gabrielle who is the elderly lady who is about to be thrown out of the only real home she has had by a large faceless company. Gabrielle sends a translated manuscript all the way to America to an Attorney, and Private Detective her relative Tony has found and talked into seeing if they can help Gabrielle in proving that the land she lives on is genuinely hers. 
It's quite amusing how Tony kind of coerces his friends to take a look at Gabrielle's case, saying if nothing else they will get to stay in a beautiful home in Tuscany for a couple of weeks. Despite initial misgivings the pair agree, saying if needs be they can hire someone to act as a lawyer/attorney as because Catherine is from America she will be unable to practice law in Tuscany. 

The manuscript sent from Gabrielle is written by someone called Ada. Apparently when they have read this book the proof they need to help Gabrielle to stay in her Tuscan home will be revealed. Ada's story is revealed as first Catherine and then Liam read the manuscript. As soon as Ada is introduced into the book, I grew attached to her. Initially you don't know who Ada is and what her relevance to Gabrielle or the property dispute are. Everything is revealed as it is read by Catherine. I felt immediately drawn to the character of Ada and by the end of the book I loved her and Gabrielle. 

To say there are some seriously dodgy dealing going on and people being paid off or killed to maintain their silence around the true ownership history of Gabrielle's home is an understatement. Catherine and Liam really do have their work cut out in a country they don't particularly know very well and have to ask for the language to be translated too. However both Catherine and Liam are determined to help Gabrielle and soon discover that the ownership paperwork pertaining to title line of her property has been hidden or destroyed. Gabrielle  is distraught about her history and does not wish to speak about it, simply reiterating all will be revealed in Ada's story.

Ada's story is the historical story of how Gabrielle came to live and own her property and award winning vineyard. Part of the vineyard is actually named Ada's Vineyard and it contains the most impressive plants that make the highest award winning wines. To begin with it seems the company wanting Gabrielle's property want her vineyard, however that is not the only reason they want the land yet at the same time they do not want to reveal exactly who they are or what and when they came to "own" the property.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, both the story of the present time of Gabrielle, Catherine and Liam and then the past which is mainly about Ada's life, who in the beginning is happily living in Berlin with her parents. Her father is a famous violinist and plays in the orchestra, whilst Ada plays in the junior orchestra. Ada has a hard job to become art of an orchestra as the majority have only male players. Life seems pretty good for Ada and her family and then things begin to change Hitler begins to make his political bid. At first Ada's family think nothing will change for them that soon Hitler and his campaign will quieten. Sadly this is not the case and Ada and her family miss many opportunities to get away to a new life. Ada is a very talented violinist and this talent does prove to be a valuable one that enables her to escape the Nazis clutches on more than one occasion. 
I could go on and on about this book, it covers such a difficult era of history, and the holocaust is still rightfully seen as such a shocking occurrence. 

I loved the characters of Ada & Gabrielle and their stories of survival. This book took me through a plethora of emotions, from the shock and horror of the Holocaust, the disbelief of how the Nazi's got away their treatment of the countries and the people that had lived in them all their lives. I felt disgust at the Nazi's and their laws that alienated the Jewish people and anyone seen as a sympathiser to them. The book had a little romance between the young Jewish Ada and Kurt a fellow musician in the junior orchestra who ended up joining the German army. Their love for each other was strong and continued throughout the book even when they didn't see each other for years and the fact they were from opposite side of a war. Ada's story also had me both, in tears and yet also smiling. Ada really was a resilient young woman who put up and beat many vile hardships the Nazis put her her through.

I honestly hated having to put this book down. It pulls on your heartstrings, yet also has young sat at the edge of your seat. Ada's story reveals some of the small precious happy memories the Jewish people managed to have/create despite the never ending onslaught they faced from Hitler and his men. It seems that one Nazi officer has a very long memory and seriously bears grudges, he is out to destroy Ada.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that it was Amazing! A tale that is sad, horrific, tear jerking and yet it is also a heart warming, uplifting tale of hope, love and triumph over unimaginable adversity.

Prior to reading this book I had been in a bit of a reading rut. However I picked this e-book up to read and was hooked by just 7%. What more can I say? I loved Ada, Gabrielle and their interwoven lives. 






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