For Such a Timeby Kate Breslin
Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther
In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false/b>
Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther
In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.
Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp's prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?
"I absolutely loved this book. For Such a Time kept me up at night, flipping the pages and holding my breath wanting to know what would happen next. Based on the Biblical book of Esther, the story takes the reader to a concentration camp inside World War II Czechoslovakia, where a young Jewish woman has captured the attention of the Kommandant and has the opportunity to save her people, much as Esther did in the Biblical account. The story is gripping, compelling, and I dare anyone to close the cover before the last suspenseful page."#1 New York Times Bestselling Author, Debbie Macomber
"When I finished Kate Breslin's novel for the first time, I had an urge to flip back to page one and start reading all over again. It's that good. For Such a Time is an intimate portrait painted on a grand scale, bringing to life the drama and pain of suffering with the triumph and joy of freedom. This book deserves a wide audience, and newcomer Breslin has a bright future."#1 New York Times bestselling author, Susan Wiggs
"An engrossing and inspiring story from a talented new writer."Bestselling Author, Sheila Roberts
Breslin makes a chilling debut with this retelling of the biblical story of Esther set in the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia during World War II. Rescued from a firing squad by an SS officer, Hadassah Benjamin, hiding under the false identity of Stella Mueller, is pressed into service as a secretary for the Kommandant. But in order to save herself, she must stand by as her people are sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Still, she senses that Col. Aric von Schmidt might be sympathetic and appeals to him on behalf of the people in the camp. They hatch a plan to save as many of the prisoners as they can from the deadly place, but eventually their ruse is discovered. VERDICT The atrocities of Nazi Germany come alive in this heart-rending tale of love, loss, and redemption. Breslin's stark portrayal of the treatment of the Jewish people by the Nazis will shock readers. Fans of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy complex dramatic stories, will want to pick up this title.
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For Such A Time
By KATE BRESLIN
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2014 Kathryn Breslin
All rights reserved.
Esther also was taken to the king's palace.... Esther 2:8
Monday, February 14, 1944
The stench was unmistakable.
Seeping through the walls of the two-story chalet, turning pungent from the warmth of an oil furnace, the insidious odor drifted upstairs to where Stella lay asleep on a window seat. It filled her nostrils and roused her with a jerk; she struggled upright, shielding her eyes against the bright light penetrating the glass.
Dawn. The burning had begun.
Beyond the chilled pane lay the Ceaseless White. Stella gazed out at the endless mantle of snow punctuated by clusters of bare-limbed trees, a handful of farmhouses, and St. Jakob's onion-shaped cupola in the distance. To the west, the nebulous sky grew dark as the stacks of Dachau's Krematorium belched gritty smoke against a colorless sun, permeating the air with a sickening-sweet odor.
She imagined the tiny charred flakes, soaring high, borne off to God Forsaken ...
Despair struck like an angry fist; she grabbed at the sill, feeling dizzy and out of breath as she pressed her bruised forehead against the cold glass. How was it that she still felt anything?
The nausea soon passed, and she turned from the window—away from death—to stare at the austere whitewashed walls that hemmed her in. Not the train, not the Block at Dachau where she'd been held for months, but a room. Her makeshift prison for untold days.
Why was she here ... and why had she been singled out? The repetitive questions preyed on her anxiety as she began the day's ritual of scouring her surroundings for clues.
Uncle Morty once said that a person's possessions spoke much about them. Stella believed their lack often revealed more. This room, for instance, like her dignity, was stripped bare except for a low-slung cot and a nightstand disguised as a battered fruit crate. Nothing else—least of all any frivolous female comforts that might capture her interest. No vanity with ruffled seat, no perfume bottles, lipstick cassettes, or cosmetics to clutter its top. Even the windowpane had felt brittle against her skin, bereft of any delicate lace curtains. With the war in full swing, no silk stockings hung idly over the back of a chair (had there been one) or tumbled from an open dresser drawer (had there been one). Not even a shard of mirrored glass hung on the stark walls. She'd simply been locked away upstairs in an empty room, the fabled Rapunzel in her tower. Except for the hair ...
Hardly a princess, Stella thought bitterly, smoothing blistered fingertips over the new growth at her scalp. She surveyed her spindly extremities—barely discernible arms and legs that protruded from the capped sleeves and knee-length hem of her blue cotton dress. She looked more like the room: an empty husk, lifeless, genderless. Temporary ...
The faint purr of a car's engine drew her attention back to the window. A black Mercedes approached the chalet, cutting a path through the snow that concealed the road. The disjointed white cross of the Hakenkreuz emblazoned its door.
Jew Killers. Stella froze as the Nazi staff car pulled up beside the house. Fragments of memory collided with her mounting apprehension. The gritty-faced Kapo—a Jew trusted by the Nazis to guard their Block of prisoners at Dachau—had stuffed her into the blue dress. The feel of warm wool against her skin as she was wrapped in a blanket and carried. The dark trunk of a car ...
The driver wore the black uniform of the Schutzstaffel and exited first before rushing around to open the passenger door. The man who emerged next stood tall and broad-shouldered in a heavy greatcoat. His presence evoked every aspect of authority. Dominance. Even the cane he gripped in his right hand failed to diminish his aura of power.
He looked up at her window. Stella's heart pounded. Did some intuitive force reveal to him her hiding place, or had he already known? She pulled back from the sill, then quickly changed her mind, meeting his stare.
His face was a canvas of strength—rock-hard features fortified with asperity, amplified by the grim line at his mouth and the tautness of his squared jaw. Features much accustomed to pain. More in giving it than receiving it, she decided.
Beneath his black officer's cap with its skull-and-bones death's-head insignia, eyes of an indiscernible color watched her a long moment. Without looking away, he raised his free hand and snapped his fingers, bringing his driver to heel like a trained beast. He passed his cane to the underling without comment and then strode to the front door.
The bell sounded below, and every nerve in Stella's body screamed. She heard the frantic voice of the housekeeper—her jailer—greet the Nazi.
Pressing chapped palms against her thighs, she was vaguely aware of the dampness of sweat seeping through the thin cotton dress. Her pulse hammered in her throat as the first wooden step leading upstairs groaned beneath his weight. She'd heard about medical experiments performed on prisoners. Was he a doctor? Was that why she'd been brought here?
A key turned in the lock. Stella's body bucked in reaction, launching her to her feet. She became aware of a winded sound, a shallow, rapid rushing of air—and realized it was her own breath.
"Gut, you're awake."
The stout, ruddy-cheeked Hausfrau stood on the threshold. Not the Jew Killer.
Stella's knees nearly buckled.
"You have an important visitor. Follow me downstairs."
Stella didn't immediately grasp the command. Fear rooted her to a spot by the window, a sapling anchored to earth. She could only blink at the sour-faced woman standing at the door.
"Are you deaf, Jude? I said come with me!"
The sharp words freed Stella's invisible fetters and she shuffled forward, swallowing the bubble of terror in her throat. In deference lay my survival, in deference lay my survival ...
"Your kind brings nothing but trouble," the housekeeper hissed before turning to leave.
Stella ground her teeth to keep silent. She wasn't surprised at the woman's hostility. Even the word Jew had become dangerous to utter. Deadly.
Following the Hausfrau downstairs, Stella felt panic escalate with each step. She fought it the only way she knew how: by lulling herself into a languid state that had so often shielded her sanity. She became oblivious to the gold-gilt lithographs framed along the stairwell and the moan of warped wood beneath her bare feet. Dust particles swirling in a shaft of winter sunlight from an upstairs window went unnoticed.
When pain from a protruding nail on the step finally jarred her benumbed state, Stella blinked and stared down at the blood oozing from her torn flesh. Her chest tightened with flashes of memory. Bloody hands ... gunshot ...
Like an ill-wakened sleeper, she raised her head to glare at the housekeeper. What was the point in deference? She was already dead inside. Did it matter what they did with her body?
Fear and disgust flashed across the other woman's face before she hastily resumed her descent. Stella followed, determined to buoy her defiance with each step—
Until she came face-to-face with him.
Terror sank its claws in deep. As the housekeeper fled to the safety of the kitchen, Stella clung to her last shred of newfound courage and focused on the man before her. He swiftly removed his hat, the brim pitching flecks of snow against her cheek.
From the window above, she'd imagined him much older. Stella was surprised to see that, up close, he was nearer in age to her own twenty-three years. His thick russet hair, shot through with gold, lay close-cropped against his head, while eyes—a vibrant shade of green—studied her with open curiosity. "Good morning, Fräulein."
Startled by his deep voice, Stella teetered backward on the step. He caught her bony wrist to steady her. When she tried to wrench free, the gloved fingers held firm. His dark brows rose in challenge. "I trust you're feeling better?"
The ice from his brim numbed her cheek. Stella fought for calm as she glanced from his arrogant face to the imposing grip on her wrist. She could smell him—new leather and pine, the dampness of snow.
"I can assure you that you're quite safe here."
Safe? Her free hand fisted at her side. How often had that word been used, that promise given and broken at Dachau?
The snowflakes melted against her skin. Stella raised her fist to wipe at the wetness; his hand was faster, and she flinched at the contact of soft leather against her cheek. Would he beat her now for being weak, mistaking the water for tears? Or maybe criticize her first?
But the Jew Killer did nothing, said nothing. Even his touch felt surprisingly gentle. She watched his gaze drop to the hand still in his grasp. In that he took care as well, as one by one he uncurled her clenched fingers. Turning her hand over, he assessed the bruises on her knuckles and joints.
Stella's fear battled against his oddly comforting touch. The heat she could feel through his leather glove made him seem almost ... human.
The raw fury in his eyes shattered the illusion. "You have my word," he said mildly. "While you are here, no one can harm you."
Clicking his heels together, he offered a curt nod. "Allow me to introduce myself. Colonel Aric von Schmidt, SS Kommandant to the transit camp at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia."
When she made no response, he added, "Lucky for you, on my way to Munich I stopped at Dachau to see my cousin Frau Gertz. I also chose to visit the camp while I was here and oversee the first transfer of laborers into my command."
An effort to smile died on his lips. "You see, I'm relatively new to my post, so I can hardly afford mistakes. Nor am I a man who tolerates them. When my sergeant informed me that one body from the train's manifest was unaccounted for, I decided to track it down myself. Care to guess who it was?"
Stella shook her head, too afraid to speak.
"No? Well, here you are—proof of my good deed. And if you're wondering why I didn't put you on that train, it was due to an inconsistency on your papers. They state you are Aryan, Fraulein Muller. So you will explain to me now why they have been stamped JUDE."
Stella lowered her head to hide her resentment. The false identification papers Uncle Morty had purchased for her in secret from Berlin had done nothing to save her. She'd spent the past several months living in quarters unfit for livestock. She'd worked outside in the cold, wearing thin rags and wooden clogs several sizes too big. Not even stockings to protect her feet from chafing or frostbite. And hunger—the Nazis had tried to starve them all.
"Answer me!" he snapped at her, all pretense at politeness gone.
Stella's head shot up as she choked on her fear. "Gestapo ... at the checkpoint ..."
"Gestapo did this? Why?"
His eyes narrowed on her. Stella's panic exploded. "He wanted to ... tried to ... I wouldn't let him ..." She struggled against his grasp. "Please ... not my fault ...!"
"Enough!" His grip was like iron. "I told you that you are safe here. Why do you think I brought you to my cousin's house?"
Stella quit her struggle. The fact that he'd gone to such lengths to save her came on the heels of realizing he wasn't a doctor. Instead of feeling relief, a cold shiver crept up her spine. What did he want? She tried to recall further details from that night, but could remember nothing prior to her awakening days before on the cot upstairs.
It seemed her life had changed in the span of an instant, and this man, this Jew Killer, took credit for the act. Yet Stella had no recollection of him. Nor did she feel gratitude. "I don't understand. Why did you bring me here?"
High on the foyer wall, a Black Forest clock ticked the seconds. Stella held her breath, every nerve attuned to the man's response.
This time his smile reached its destination. Dazzling white, its unexpected warmth surprised and unsettled her. Only his somber green eyes dampened the effect. "Do I need a reason, Fräulein?" A pause. "Very well, I wanted an explanation and you've given it—more or less. I know the Gestapo's breed of men, so I can fill in the blanks." He eyed her a long moment. "Trust me when I tell you that you are not the first to fall victim to their pranks."
Stella's throat tightened with anger. Her experience at the hands of the Gestapo had hardly been a mere joke. She swallowed her ire and said, "And now ... what will you do with me, Herr Kommandant?"
"Fatten you up like a Christmas Gänsebraten, for a start." He glanced at her spare limbs. "Soon you'll return to the pretty dove I imagine you once were."
Stella looked away. Was he toying with her? Morty once told her that her beauty would save her—a "changeling," he'd called his young niece, Stella's blond hair and blue eyes a rarity among their people.
Her uncle had been wrong. Beauty was dangerous, a liability for someone desperate to remain obscure in a crowd, inconspicuous to the eyes of soldiers.
She turned to him, this time her bitterness unchecked. "Christmas goose or fatted calf, both meet the same end, do they not, Herr Kommandant?"
The muscle at his jaw clenched. Too late, Stella realized her foolish outburst. Horrified and amazed at her own audacity, she braced against the expected Consequence. Surely he would beat her, or worse—
The force of his bellow nearly knocked Stella back. He continued to hold her in his grip until his cousin appeared cautiously from the kitchen.
"Get her a coat. We're leaving."
Frau Gertz bobbed her head like some peasant to a feudal lord before she rushed toward the closet. Stella could only watch, frozen in place. The colonel promised she would be safe ... here. And now they were leaving.
The Hausfrau returned with a coat disguised as a frayed white shawl.
"Have you any shoes, Fräulein?"
He sounded impatient. Stella gaped at her bloodied feet, her mind seized by more forgotten memories. Someone at Dachau had taken her shoes, her clothes ...
She knelt naked in the snow, her soul seared with humiliation, her body numbed by cold. Faces streaked with dirt and pity surrounded her as though she were some freak in a carnival. Soon guards dragged her away. Her flesh burned with pain, then fear. Fear for the little hands shoving a bundle in her direction. A blouse ... little hands in danger ... crying hands ... struggle with the guards ... the crack of a rifle ...
Images ripped through Stella like shards of glass. She hunched forward, dizzy with pain, her eyes shut against the brutal past.
"I will not ask you again!"
The colonel's frighteningly cold voice sounded a thousand kilometers away. She clawed her way up through the terrifying haze and struggled to recall his question. Shoes ...
"Gone," Stella managed to say before her knees buckled. She collapsed toward the floor just as he caught her and hauled her against him. She made a puny attempt to push away, but his strength clearly outmatched hers. Exhausted, she slumped against him, only vaguely aware of the shawl being placed across her shoulders.
She cried out in protest as he lifted her into his arms. That seemed to fuel his anger. "You fed her while I was away, didn't you?"
"Oh, she ate." Frau Gertz's blunt fingers bunched in the folds of her white apron. "She ate food enough for three people! Then she threw it up on my floor. Now she refuses anything but broth."
The Hausfrau shot an accusing look at Stella, as if demanding corroboration. Stella's face heated. She'd been so hungry. Afterward, she'd sworn that no one, especially this nasty woman, would ever again witness her humiliation. So far, the broth seemed safe enough.
"What about clothing, cousin?" The colonel's tone held an edge. "I had assumed that for the week I left her in your care, my money would more than compensate you for your trouble."
"But you said to use discretion," the Hausfrau whined. "How could I go to town and buy new clothes without the tradesmen asking questions? She is so much smaller than me—"
"I'm done with excuses! Now give her your coat, and shoes for her feet. Schnell!"
His bark sent her running back to the closet. She returned with a voluminous black wool coat and a pair of dirty pink house slippers. "My other shoes are still at the cobbler's...."
Her voice trailed off. The colonel was staring at the boots on her feet. The Hausfrau looked alarmed. Stella felt a spurt of vindication. "Please, cousin."
Before she could utter another plea, he swore and snatched up the clothing. He wheeled around and departed with Stella, leaving a startled Frau Gertz in his wake.
Outside, his driver held the car door open. Once the colonel deposited Stella against the seat, he offered her the coat and slippers. She took them before scooting to the far end of the car. His hulk-like frame followed her inside.
The engine of the Mercedes roared to life while heat blasted from vents in the car's dashboard. Stella bit back a blissful sigh as she hugged the borrowed coat to her chest. Casting a surreptitious glance at the colonel, she found herself caught in his steady, impenetrable gaze.
Excerpted from For Such A Time by KATE BRESLIN. Copyright © 2014 Kathryn Breslin. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. Author of several travel articles, award-winning poet, and RWA Golden Heart finalist, Kate now writes inspiring stories about the healing power of God's love. For Such a Time is her first book. She lives with her husband and cat in Seattle, WA. Learn more at www. katebreslin.com.
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For Such a Time is the retelling of the story of Esther set in WWII Czechoslovakia and is the author's debut novel. Hadassah Benjamin has been rescued from Daschau and given a new identity and a new name, Stella Muller, by SS Commandant Aric von Schmidt. She assumes the role as his secretary and is in a unique position to influence his actions at Theresiendstadt. Aric doesn't seem to share his countrymen's extreme views and throughout the story you see his conflict. He and Stella grow to love each other, which adds further conflict to the story as Stella struggles with being a Jew falling in love with the enemy, so to speak. You quickly find out that Stella's uncle is a prisoner at Theresiendstadt and he believes Stella will be the prisoners' salvation. At one point, both Aric and Stella are forced into a situation where they have to decide what is most important to them. Their lives, as well as many others, are put into danger as they decide to follow what they know is right. There are a lot of twists and turns in the storyline which kept me turning the pages. I loved the way the author weaved the concepts of Esther's story into this story of salvation. I felt that the romance was forced and repetitive at times, yet that didn't keep me from wanting to know how it would all turn out. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from this author. I was given a copy of this book from the publisher and The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review which I have given.
For a debut book for Kate Breslin, this is incredible. It is one of the most thought-provoking, emotional and enjoyable books I have read in a while. It is an Esther retelling of Jewish handing in Czechoslovakia. There is romance, tears, suspense, anger and most of all faith. The book will take you on a ride you won't forget quickly. I can not wait to read any further items Kate writes. I received this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
Very few books can be described as perfect, but this one can carry that title. I absolutely loved Kate Breslin's debut novel about a Jewish woman and her quest to save her people from death in Auschwitz. You also cannot help but love Aric, Helen, and Joseph.This book has everything that you could hope to read in historical fiction, and I cannot wait to read more books by Breslin.
In For Such a Time Kate Breslin does a wonderful job of weaving the story of Esther in the Bible into a story of Jews and Nazis during World War II. This story gives the reader glimpses of the atrocities of war and the plight of the Jews in the death camps. It centers on two lives that are brought together, enemies at first, to join forces to try to save a large number of condemned people. There is action, intrigue, romance, deceit, and finally, love. I couldn’t put it down; therefore, I highly recommend it to all readers. I received a free copy of this book from Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.
This book is intelligently written with sweeping description, three dimensional characters you can both sympathize with and root for, and an intricate, well-researched plot that will keep you reading page after page. I love how the WWII story follows the path of Esther and the corresponding Biblical quotes at the top of each chapter. Highly recommended, emotional read.
Outstanding book!! You will not be able to put it down. Love both of Kate Breslin's books. Waiting impatiently for her next novel.
It has been a long time since I've read a book I loved, like I loved this one. I found myself thinking about the characters during my work day and couldn't wait until I could curl up with my book and find out what would happen next. The ending made me cry. I don't think a book has ever evoked that much emotion from me before. I loved this book and I'm not sure how I can move on to another book now. Love
Couldnt read past page 114 despite my best effort• Perhaps this is not a romance but it sure as heck reads like one with all the regular clap-trap of traditional gender roles - his deep voice, her slender column of throat, his power, her submission - it is not a book for those who want to understand this time in our collective history•
In a place where hope struggles to survive and lives are torn apart, Hadassah Benjamin will do whatever it takes to save her people. "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" Hadassah is hiding in plain sight as Stella Muller, secretary to SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at Theresienstadt. In 1944 the camp is a stopping point from which many are sent to Auschwitz. As she puts her life on the line to try and save her people she suspects that the Colonel has a tender heart despite his role as an SS officer. As their relationship grows, they will have to face their drastic differences. With this unconventional love Hadassah struggles to find the meaning behind it all. She does not understand how God could abandon His people to slaughter. But has the Lord brought them together for a bigger plan? Will Stella be able to save her people as well as the man she has grown to love? A book written about the atrocities of the Holocaust is never easy to read. It is full of emotion and the history is tragic. Kate Breslin did not soften the details of the horrors of the second World War, even though this is a romance. However, she did give us a new perspective of love during the war. I was drawn in by the intriguing story line. I had never imagined a romance like this. However, there are true stories of similar relationships taking place: Edith Hahn Beer and Helena Citronova. Although Stella and Aric's story is different, it is a wonderful book. In every page you can feel the battle raging within Stella as she falls deeper in love with Aric. There were many times that I found myself grinning from ear to ear while reading one page and crying on the next. Be prepared for a wealth of emotion to overcome you as you read this book, but it is worth it! For Such a Time is a truly remarkable story of redemption through faith. We are reminded that God's love for us never fails and His forgiveness is never out of reach.
Deb’s Dozen: For such a time as this, you will be our people’s salvation. For Such a Time by Kate Breslin is a thought-provoking book, which made me pause and ponder several times. The heroine in the story, Stella Muller (Hadassah), is modeled on Esther. She, too, will be the salvation of her people. Set in Theresienstadt (Terezin), the story recounts Stella’s rescue from Dachau and her journey to health and determination as the Kommandant’s secretary. Aric Schmidt, the Kommandant of Theresienstadt, is a decorated war hero to the Nazis. After being wounded in a battle against the Russians, he is rewarded with this post following his recovery. Touring Dachau, he came upon Stella on a firing squad line still holding the hand of a little girl who had just been killed by the squad. Compelled to rescue her, he takes her to his home in Theresienstadt, allows her to recover, and then uses her as his secretary. Providentially, her uncle, Morty, is imprisoned in the ghetto at Theresienstadt, and they are reunited. Aric does not know that Stella is really Hadassah Benjamin, but believes she is an Aryan who has been imprisoned through a mishap over her papers (which actually are false). Morty is the last of the Jewish Elders still alive there and has the gruesome task of picking the prisoners who are to go on the trains to Auschwitz. Joseph, a young Jewish boy whom the Kommandant has made his houseboy, is the go-between for Morty and Stella. This was a very hard story to read. I didn’t want to remember the atrocities that the Nazis inflicted upon the Jews during WWII. I didn’t want to face the hardships that they lived with on a daily basis. Perhaps the most telling scene for me was when the Kommandant forced one of his officers to eat a bowl of the “potato soup” that was being served to the Jews. The officer ate it and immediately vomited. How awful it must have been to have had to eat rotten potato soup to survive! After having said all that, I will still recommend that you read For Such a Time. The story, although ugly in the situation, is still a story of hope and redemption and love. You will fall in love with Stella and Joseph and Helen and ache for Morty and Leo and Yakov and the others in the ghetto. You will agonize with the Kommandant, Aric, as he tries to ascertain who he is and what he has become. For Such a Time will be that unforgettable book for you. Four stars. Kate Breslin is a Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest. She now lives in Seattle and has a son and a grandson. She spent fifteen years as a bookseller. She loves classical movies, the outdoors and gardening. Her favorite authors are Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis Higgs, Stephanie Landsem, and Julie Garwick. When I interviewed her she told me she chose this topic because of a parallel story she had read about a WWII Nazi concentration camp. She had been reading Esther and asked herself if she could bring Esther’s story to “modern” times. Each chapter starts with a relevant quote from the Book of Esther. She has received much acclaim for For Such a Time. The book is up for a Christy and two Carol Awards as well as a Romance Writers of America award. She won Christian Retailing’s 2015 Best-Selling Award for First Time Author. Her next book, Not By Sight, has just released.
A wonderful read, filled with sadness, fear, bravery and hope. This was an epic fictional story that kept me glued until the last page. Highly recommended with a permanent spot on my "favorites" shelf. What a tale of bravery and hope. Loved every minute of this 400 page story.
Very clever retelling of the story of Esther set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend. I ended up staying up late because I couldn't put it down! Terrific story. : )
Could.not put it down The book was so intense I had to read the ending but it did not.affect.the.read So good. I felt I knew every character Got to say one of.the best I ever read Don't pass it by
Compelling first novel of Kate Breslin brings the reader the story of a young Jewess during the final days of WWII. With romance, suspense, courage, loss and horrors of the Nazi war camps, Breslin weaves the story of Hadasseh with the Biblical account of Queen Esther of the Old Testament to tell the pain and suffering of Jews who were interred in a camp in Czechloslovakia. Breslin has a number of twists in her plot that keeps the reader wondering how Hadasseh will be the "salvation" of her people. Strong characters dealing with complex situations and gripping drama make this book one you will want to read again and share with others. I received this book for free from BookClubNetwork and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I have also posted this review on DeeperShopping, Amazon, and Goodreads.
Kate Breslin in her new book “For Such A Time” published by Bethany House Publishers takes us into the life of Hadassah Benjamin. From the back cover: Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself? I think one of the darkest times in the history of the world was during World War II. Not only was Hitler trying to take over the world but he was also trying to exterminate the Jews. And one of the ways he chose to handle the extermination was through the concentration camps. Now here comes Hadassah Benjamin who is saved from death because her papers say she is Stella Muller. Now she works for Aric von Schmidt who does not agree with the things that Hitler wants him to do. It all builds to the finale when there is a clash of wills and someone has to be the victor. Needless to say there is a great deal of suspense in this story and it builds and builds to an adrenaline rush. Ms. Breslin really knows how to tell a story. Hadassah and Aric are outstanding characters with strong personalities that live on the pages. And, yes, “For Such A Time” is also a retelling of the Biblical account of Queen Esther, though if you don’t know that story don’t worry it will not affect your reading pleasure. On top of all this there is also a romance. I really liked “For Such A Time” and I look forward to more stories from the very talented Ms. Breslin. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I have read a great many books that I have enjoyed. Sometimes, however, a book stands out from the rest and I consider it exceptional. The most recent book to do that is For Such a Time by Kate Breslin. As I understand it, this is her debut novel. This novel takes place during the Second World War in Czechoslovakia. This is not even my favorite time period for book settings. It’s a very desperate time and not a place I like to escape to for my reading pleasure. However, when given the opportunity to review this book the synopsis intrigued me. An Esther retelling during World War Two sounded too interesting to pass up. I am so glad I didn’t. The author started every chapter with a verse from Esther. Now it did not necessarily follow the timeline of the Biblical Esther, but each verse at the beginning gave us just a hint of what we might expect to read in a particular chapter. I absolutely enjoyed the unfolding of the Esther story. It was at times dark and sad and a bit scary as I did not know how these characters were going to make it. I was so very curious on how she was going to make me care about her “hero” who was the SS Kommandant in charge of the transit camp. I also wanted to see how Hadassah/Stella was going to grow and care about her captor Aric. There is a love story and a very good one at that. It almost has a Beauty and the Beast feel about it. I highly recommend this book. It is one of my favorites of 2014 and I look forward to more novels by Kate Breslin. I received this book from The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) and the opinions are my own.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings An interesting and different take on the typical Holocaust story with an inside look into the German side of a Kommandant and his office and life. A Jewish woman is mistaken and the Kommandant takes her into his home as his secretary and through her influence he finds compassion for the people he has been taught to persecute. From the beginning this book read quickly and I had the hardest time putting it down because I wanted to just know what was going to happen next between the Kommandant, his secretary and the Jewish people in the camp. Although a hefty book in pages, I didn't even realize how long it was until the very end! The twists and turns were throughout and nothing was too far out that felt weird or awkward. I may admit to a few tears at the end!
First I must say that I do not normally read WWII books. They are difficult for me emotionally. But I LOVE the story of Esther in the Bible, and with this title it totally intriqued me. I enjoyed this book. Some aspects of WWII were still difficult to read about, but I know those are important for me to know and remember. And the author didn't go into gruesome details, or really difficult situations that bothered me. Kate Breslin is a very good storyteller that made me feel very much a part of the story and setting. She portrayed the mixed emotions of the heroine very well so that I understood her conflict, but also how she could fall in love with Aric. It was a breath of fresh air to see a Nazi SS Komandant portrayed as having some feeling of kind-heartedness and seeing the wrong in what they were doing, as well as his willingness to sacrifice his own life to save others. I felt the book was a little long at times, but enjoyed the retelling of the story of Esther in a "modern" setting that I could understand. I thank Bethany House for sending me this book so that I could read and review it.
This is one of the most touching and beautiful love stories that I have read in a very long time! I have read several books based on the story of Esther in the Old Testament. Never have I read one whose genre is more appropriate than the story of Stella ( a beautiful, secret Jew who has been saved from the horrors of the concentration camps) and SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt ( the Nazi commandant of Theresienstadt concentration camp). Since we are familiar with the horrors of the Holocaust, we can begin to relate to how difficult Esther’s predicament was in trying to both face the imminent danger to her people and the power of life or death the king had over her. When we first meet Stella she has just been snatched from certain death in Dachau by Colonel von Schmidt. Arac was drawn to her for reasons unknown to him and she is now in his protective custody. God had a plan to both save her people and Arac’s soul. Uncle Morty has seen the salvation of his poor people at Theresienstadt by her in a dream. Will Stella, ( Hadassah Benjamin) find the courage and faith to complete this mission or will she succumb to the cruelty of her captors and completely lose faith. This is the author, Kate Breslin’s, first novel. If this is any indication of her work, she has a wonderful career ahead of her! She portrays the horrors of the Holocaust without delving into the terrible details which are often hard to bare. Having taught and attended many workshops on the Holocaust, I was familiar with the farce of the Red Cross inspection of Therensienstadt. I made me sad that the realty could not have been the way the story portrayed it. Highly recommended! I received this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion. What a blessing this was!
For Such a Time is the debut novel of Kate Breslin and absolutely my favorite book I’ve read so far this year! A retelling of the story of Esther set against the backdrop of WWII and a German concentration camp, Breslin weaves a compelling, heart wrenching tale that had me turning pages late into the night. Hadassah Benjamin, under the guise of Stella Muller, is rescued from a concentration camp by a high ranking SS official Colonel Aric von Schmidt. Stella soon finds herself working as Schmidt’s personal secretary at another concentration camp with the unique opportunity to save some of her people. Along the way Stella struggles with fear and self doubt while trying to save as many Jews as possible without giving away her deadly secret. Stella was a very well developed character but it was Aric that really stood out to me. How difficult it must have been to write a hero that readers would love and be invested in when he is serving as a Kommandant in the vile SS. I thought Breslin did this wonderfully though. I really cared about Aric and understood his inner turmoil over his growing reservations and doubts as he came to know Stella and see the Holocaust through her eyes. The romance between Stella and Aric was well written also. This particular love story needed to be handled very carefully and I think the author did just that. I will definitely be recommending this title and am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future. ***I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. ***
An excellent debut novel! 4 ½ stars This is Kate Breslin’s first novel and it is wonderful! I was very excited to read this book for two main reasons - I enjoy books set during WWII and I was curious about how the author would incorporate the story of Esther. I am very happy to say that I was not disappointed in either aspect! Her attention to detail really brings the story to life, making it seem as though you are actually there, living it with them - which is kind of sad sometimes, since the novel is set in a transit camp for Jews. Ms. Breslin brings out a different aspect of the War that we generally try to ignore, or perhaps forget. I struggled with a few parts of the story that broke my heart for the people who actually lived through it. While this is a fictional account of a transit camp, there is much reality that weaves through it. The author definitely did her research to make this as realistic as possible. This isn’t a light read, or something to just randomly pick up and read a few chapters. It pulls you in and you feel compelled to keep reading to see what will happen next. As I already mentioned, this book is an adaptation of the story of Esther, from the Bible. I know, you’re probably tired of these novels. It seems so overdone and most of us just want authors to move on and pick another story to focus on. But, I must applaud Ms. Breslin for her creativity. She did an excellent job of bringing this well-loved Bible story to life in a new way that captures your attention and quickly draws you in. Hadassah Benjamin, or Stella Muller as we know her for most of the book, is a very real character. At the start of the book, I just wanted someone to hug and protect her. She has been abused, tormented, and fears what will happen to her now. I enjoyed watching her come to life and begin standing up for herself. Stella is a bold character from the start. She doesn’t always think before she speaks, making me wonder what she might say next. She has little faith left and is just trying to survive when she is pressed into service as a secretary for a German officer. She must figure out how to continue her façade, especially when continuing means she must betray her people. Aric von Schmidt is the “hero” in this book. I started out really wanting to hate him, mostly because he is a Nazi. But as the story progresses, I found I didn’t have it in me to dislike him that much. I wanted to shake him and tell him to get it together a few times, but he really is a good man. He is struggling just as much as Stella, just in a different way. He fought in the war before being placed as Kommandant at the camp and has no desire to send anyone to their death, but what choice does he have? This is what he asks Stella when she confronts him about it. The romance between them was rather sweet and didn’t seem overly contrived. It helped that Stella didn’t just “fall in love,” but thought about it, what it would mean. She is torn between her people and the man she loves. Aric is equally torn, because he doesn’t believe himself to be good enough and knows Stella plans to leave at the first opportunity. It also wasn’t made the main focus of the book, which I appreciated it. It was still there, flowing through the book, but other themes took precedence. I’m not sure I can pick out one distinct spiritual theme in this book. This definitely isn’t a “preaching book” as some label Christian fiction. The Christian aspect is there, but it is mostly about the characters finding and having faith. Stella believes God has turned His back on her, on them all. She lived the suffering of the Jews and witnesses it again while at Theresientstadt. I enjoyed seeing her slowly make her way back to God and begin to comprehend the Christian faith. For Aric, what he most craved was redemption, though he didn‘t figure that out for a while. He fears that God will never accept him after what he has done to His people. I also enjoyed his journey, as he starts to care more and more about Stella and then about the Jews. He isn’t the hard hearted man I thought him to be at the beginning. The only reason I’ve held back ½ a star from my rating is that I found the story a little confusing at times, as the point of view shifted. A few times it changed during a paragraph and I would have to read a few sentences to figure out whose view point it was now, then back track to catch up on what was going on. Thankfully, I can only think of 2 or 3 times when this happened. I found it disrupted the flow of the story, but each time it quickly smoothed back out. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys novels set during WWII. I received this book through The Book Club Network for my honest opinion, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not received any compensation for it. All opinions expressed are my own
The plight of the Jewish people during WWII has always been intriguing to me. I will never understand how a person can demonstrate such cruelty to others of the human race based simply on their nationality. That fact, made this book very appealing, although I understand that in itself, it is not completely historically accurate. This is Kate Breslin's inspirational fiction debut, so I would have to say for her first book she did a great job. I will be eager to read what she comes up with next.This book is a "modern day" story of Esther helping her people. In the story, a half-Jewish young woman, Stella, escapes suffering thanks to her captor/employer Aric, a SS-Commander. At first their relationship is quite rocky; understandably so, as she has suffered much at the hands of the guards in the prison camp. She is afraid and leery of him. After time, though, she is drawn by his character, and a relationship blossoms. Sometimes this may make you like the story and at times it may have the opposite effect. How will their relationship affect her desire to save her people from their plight? This is a tale of courage, redemption and faith, with many unexpected twists along the way. The author uses a passage from Esther at the beginning of each chapter although not particularly in order. A possible difference between this story and Esther, is that in the time of Esther the Jews believed in God and Jesus had not yet come. But in this modern time period, the author is taking Jewish people and integrating some of the Bible and Christian faith. It did make me wonder if their suffering could have drawn them to the Messiah and becoming Judeo-Christians or not? This of course has peaked my curiosity. Overall the story will captivate you and keep your attention. Definitely worth the read! I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my unbiased opinion. I was not required to give a positive review.
One of the most stunning and poignant debut novels that I have ever had the privilege of reading, Kate Breslin's "For Such a Time" is a retelling of the biblical story of Esther, set during the Holocaust. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of courage, loss, love, and ultimately redemption and salvation. The story centers upon secrets and coming to terms with one's past in order to fulfill one's God-given purpose and to move forward into the future. A historical thriller, "For Such a Time" explores how God works even in the most desperate and seemingly hopeless of situations to bring about His purpose and the salvation of His people.
As you all know, historical fiction is my favorite genre, particularly set during World War II. So when I heard about debut author Kate Breslin’s new book, I was immediately intrigued. Her novel retells the biblical story of Esther, yet it explores that story in the context of World War II. Sounds interesting, right? As a blond, blue-eyed Jew, Stella Mueller’s appearance allows her to blend in and camaflouge herself behind her fair features. Her appearance may save her from the same fate as her people, but seeing them suffer causes her to question God. After everything she has endured and seen in this war, she struggles to hold on to her faith. Colonel Aric von Schmidt rescues Stella from a firing squad and places her in his employ. He is a cold, severe man who is bound by duty, yet Stella sees the compassion that is hidden in the depths of his heart. Just as Stella can see his compassion, Aric sees so much good in Stella. He sees innocence and hope. He sees the chance to start over and escape from the life he now leads. He wants freedom and he can nearly grasp it when Stella walks into his life. As Stella and Aric face their personal struggles, will they win the battles they face? Or are they doomed to become victims of war? *I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*
I normally don’t read these types of books. Everything about this just sounds so….let’s say cliched. Either I was going to cry over the complete uber cheesiness of this book and power through it or I might just actually enjoy it. Nevermind that the author took various liberties with the historical aspect of the book and changed a couple of things herself. This sort of thing would have gotten my knickers in a knot and I would have been pulling my hair out in sheer anger at how someone could just do such a drastic thing especially with this type of historical subject. She does write a good author’s note at the end so I can forgive….. I also shrugged off the fact that it got a little semi preachy towards the end of the book, (I had to remind myself this was an inspirational novel - however I’m not that fond of the preachy tones) not to mention the romance during the last third of the book got my stomach a little queasy as I’m just not that used to this. I shrugged off the biggest thing that made me irksome in this book and that was the name Aric and I wondering how the heck is that a suitable name (what the heck was wrong with Erich??? which is a much more realistic sounding and perfect name for that era….if there was more research done in this particular era in history you’ll find DOZENS of soldiers named ERICH (including a famous general) so why does he need to be named something different??? is he a child of Hollywood??????) I overlooked all those three things that normally in any other book I’d have thrown to the wall and never touch again. Why? Because I absolutely loved Aric and Hadassah. The tense moments, the moments where they’re oh so close yet they come apart, or that one dramatic moment where everything actually DID, it just all was an emotional ride. However because their chemistry was so good, I couldn’t help but love them both together. They were so good together you wanted them to hit it off right away. They’re both almost made for each other and one just can’t help but be totally caught up with them through the entire book. So I said this was an emotional ride. Yes...aside from the very sensitive subject matter, you can’t help but absolutely hate the antagonists in the book with such a rabid rage you feel like going into the book and gave them the haymaker of your life, or skewer them like sausages (hahah a reference to Hadassah’s Herr Sausage haahhaha!) however if the author’s intention was to instill these kinds of emotions from the reader with these kinds of characters; then consider the job very well done. As to the plot; again if you’re a historical nitpick this might hurt. However, detailed setting descriptions and the overall mood of the story does fit well. The story itself is alright if one can forgive the historical inaccuracies and the attempts to make it fit into the plot, all the action seems to have been crammed into the final third of the novel which does give it a feeling of being rushed, but nevertheless the reading is good. It’s really the characters that carry the novel. The ending, made me weep (whether happy or sad tears, I am not going to say. It would be considered a spoiler) :) Would I recommend this? yes, if you want to read a pair of characters that just hit it off from almost page one. No, if you’re bothered by the preachy undertones, the historical warping, and the somewhat nauseous romance that develops later…