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23 February 2016

Julie Thomas: Rachel's Legacy

The Secrets of the Letters
One day art historian Dr Kobi Voight from Melbourne is given a set of letters by his mother who had come to Australia with her German parents in the late 1940's. The letters, written in Hebrew and filled with beautiful sketches, are the reflections of a young Jewish woman to her young baby in 1942. His mother thought that they were old papers which her mother had acquired during her long life - but they are a key that unlocks the past for Kobi and eventually his mother.

The letters are a young mother's personal messages to her baby who she gave away to a German couple to save her baby's life. The author, who called herself "Ruby" was part of a resistance circle, the Red Orchestra, that worked to undermine Hitler's Germany. For protection, she made up names for her friends and her family, many of whom had been killed or sent to concentration camps. The letters stopped in 1942 when the resistance circle was broken by the Nazis. Ruby's fate was unknown.

While looking for a priceless piece of art by German Renaissance master artist Albrecht Dürer, Kobi finds a link to its ownership by the Horowitz family who we already know from KEEPER OF SECRETS. The journey of discovery will take Kobi to Germany and the US. It will expose him to the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, through to the present day and will eventually unravel the secrets of the letters.

When I read KEEPER OF SECRETS I didn't foreshadow a sequel, nor, at first, did the author. However, in her extensive research for the earlier novel Julie Thomas learned a lot about the Red Orchestra, a very brave resistance and spy organisation that worried the Nazis. Using that information and weaving it around the Horowitz family Thomas has written another notable, sometimes harrowing and often emotional  tale. If you enjoyed the earlier book you will certainly enjoy this one. 4.5 stars.

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