A View Across the Rooftops: An epic, heart-wrenching and gripping World War Two historical novel

A View Across the Rooftops: An epic, heart-wrenching and gripping World War Two historical novel

by Suzanne Kelman

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Overview

‘Heart wrenching… I really struggled to put this book down, particularly the end of the book which I sat up until 2am reading and trying hard not to wake my husband with my crying!’ Goodreads Reviewer ?????

1941, Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. An unforgettable story of love, hope and betrayal, and a testament to the courage of humanity in history’s darkest days.

University professor Josef Held has never recovered from the loss of his wife. He has no intention of letting anyone new into his quiet, safe world, where the ticking clock in his mathematics classroom drowns out the beat of Nazi soldiers’ boots.

But when his Jewish pupil Michael comes to him, saying Jews will no longer be allowed to study, Josef can ignore the situation no longer. In an impulsive act of courage, he offers Michael a place to hide in his attic.

In the quiet gloom of the secret room, Josef discovers Michael is everything he himself is not: spontaneous, poetic, and unafraid to love, though his passionate relationship with a non-Jewish Dutch girl is strictly forbidden. Michael insists: not even the Nazis will keep him from his fearless, beautiful, chestnut-haired Elke.

Josef sees the determination in his young friend’s eyes. Remembering his own heartbreak, he feels desperate to give Michael and Elke a chance. But in the dark days of war, with danger and betrayal at every turn, no-one can be trusted.

And then tragedy strikes, facing Josef with an impossible choice. If Michael is to survive and get back to the woman he loves, it will be down to Josef – to find the hero inside himself, and do whatever it takes to keep Michael alive.

Even if it means putting his own life on the line.

A heartbreakingly beautiful story about love, trust, and courage against the odds, perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, All The Light We Cannot See, and The Nightingale.

Readers are loving A View Across the Rooftops:

Oh my goodness... Hauntingly beautiful… Incredibly powerful… I cried, I grieved and I hopedI was left both heartbroken and satisfied.’ Robin Loves Reading ?????

Heart-wrenching… It is an emotional journey of heartache and love that will leave you in tears. One of the finest books I have ever read.’ NetGalley Reviewer ?????

I’ve read many books on WW2… but I’ve never read one like this before. Mesmerising, emotional and beautifully written.’ NetGalley Reviewer ?????

The rollercoaster of emotions I went through while reading this book is amazing… For an author to make me literally cry… The story is just incredible.’ Goodreads Reviewer ?????

If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. From the first moment I started reading the story, I could not stop

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781838880330
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication date: 10/25/2019
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 56,103
File size: 711 KB

Customer Reviews

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A View Across the Rooftops: An epic, heart-wrenching and gripping World War Two historical novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
paigereadsthepage 26 days ago
Romance and resistance in Amsterdam. What matters to you enough that you would sacrifice your own life? Widowed math professor, Josef Held, is faced with a decision to help a student, Michael, when the Jewish raids begin. Yet when Josef’s niece, Ingrid, becomes involved with the Nazi’s, Josef not only must decide where him and Ingrid’s relationship stands but he must also choose to follow his moralistic principles or surrender his values to solidify his own safety. Michael’s girlfriend, Elke, is faced with turmoil when Michael goes missing and she struggles to accept that he is gone. My notes: As a reader, you will not learn much history that has not already been accounted for in a plethora of other novels. The atmosphere of war and the setting of Amsterdam 1940-1945 is well constructed. However, the focus is on the characters and their tales during this time. The inhumane atrocities experienced by Jews and their life in concentration camps is not accounted for. Overall, the novel was a light, easy read. The plot did not create a complexity of profound thoughts or cause for deep reflection. For me it was not gripping or intensely captivating, but rather a normal WW2 read that avoids harrowing specifics. There is a good true story of sacrifice buried in here, and it is revealed and noted by the author in the end. Thanks to Netgalley, Bookouture, and Suzanne Kelman for a copy. Opinions are my own.
Kacey14 23 days ago
Rating: 3.5 touching stars rounded down to 3 stars This story set in 1941 German occupied Amsterdam works on many levels. I liked Josef’s backstory that slowly unfolded and help explain his stoicism. I liked the romance aspect between Michael and Elke who were both students in the University level math class that Josef taught. Complicating the story is the fact that Michael is a Jew. The Germans are trying to hunt him down. They want to send him to a ‘work camp’ or just kill him on the spot when they capture him. Then there is Ingrid. She is Josef’s adult orphaned niece. She is self-centered, not too principled, and seeking an easy life. She craves approval from all the wrong places. She is a catalyst for one of the harrowing scenes told in the first third of the book. When she sees her uncle after the incident, she does not understand why he is not happy about what had just taken place. This is mainly the story of how Josef Held has to come to terms with whether or not to shelter Michael. Is it worth it to put himself at risk for the sake of another? Josef is a cautious man who has cut himself off from human touch and interaction after the death of his wife. Can he find the courage to extend himself for another? How do you weigh the value of your life against the potential of another’s life? This book is about a dark subject in world history. It is written in a gentle thoughtful style. For me, the history was a little too glossed over. It minimized some of the aspects of what the Germans did to the Jews in Amsterdam. If you like your WWII stories told with a lighter touch including some romance in addition to historical fiction, this could be just the book for you. I’d recommend it to readers who haven’t read much about WWII yet, or who don’t like to be overwhelmed with too many harrowing scenes directly involving the Holocaust and death camps. ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Bookouture; and the author, Suzanne Kelman for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
gaele 23 days ago
Just how far from the known do things have to descend to before you take a stance and find a courage you never knew you had? Such is the case for the characters in this book, from the reticent and keep to himself professor, to the administrative assistant at the university, a young Jewish student in love with a Dutch girl who could never forget him…. This was not a story of people who decided to become people fighting against the Germans and the rise of despicable acts in their beloved city of Amsterdam – but they were more poignant for their sudden decisions to take a stand, even when every instinct is screaming for self-preservation. Starting with Josef Held, a professor of mathematics who has kept himself ‘removed’ from people and interactions since his wife’s death some years earlier. Recently, with all of the changes from the occupation, he’s been intrigued by his interest in Hannah Pender – the administrative assistant at the university, and frustrated with Michael Blum, a Jewish student who is noted for being a very reluctant student, also very in love with a young Dutch girl, Elke. But the Nazis are tightening their hold – from confiscating his wireless to taking an elderly neighbor into custody to places unknown, and he’s trying simply to survive the onslaught. His only family is a niece, brought to him after her parent’s death as a child, and now involved with a Nazi officer, bringing Josef no end of worry. Hannah takes care of her infirm mother, who spends much of her time knitting caps for ‘the boys’ who will be cold in the coming months. She’s also friendly with a Jewish family, and the young daughter spends hours with her mother, learning to knit and sharing her worries. Hannah would like to hide the family away – but her position and her mother’s need for care have her in a bind. She’s also wondering why Professor Held runs so hot and cold, when she’s only tried to have conversations. The two have much in common – that they won’t see for ages – but the connection from the university will serve them both during the long years of occupation. When Michael appears at Held’s doorway after his best friend is shot, Josef decides that enough is enough – and sets him up in his attic – the only view is over the rooftops. Despite the dangers, Michael is full of life, daring and imagination – frustrated by being ‘caged’ and worried for Elke – but alive. Alive in ways that Josef has forgotten – but this connection will bring the two closer together and encourage Josef’s return to a life lived with joy. As Hannah’s story progresses, her father’s shed, where he built and repaired bicycles becomes her refuge- from healing a wounded allied soldier and seeing him smuggled away, to building bicycles and finally being a part of the resistance delivering bicycles and packages, and finding her own simple and quiet ways to resist and help those she cares for. This isn’t a story that focuses on the atrocities of the war in a general way -but more the small moments, the emotions and the events that changed Josef and Hannah, along with Michael, Elke and Josef’s niece – and gives a sold sense of the atmosphere and the changes it brought under the brutal occupation. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
MelissaGH 26 days ago
If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. From the first moment I started reading the story, I could not stop. I was captured by the story and the characters. Descriptions made me feel like I was right there and surrounded by events and people. The dust, smells, pain and emotions were felt as I turned each page. This is a story of intense dedication of people who cared deeply for others. Amidst turmoil, death and fear of the unknown, friendships and love win out. Author Suzanne Kelman has written another great story. I received a complimentary copy of the book. No review was required.
LlamaJen 26 days ago
Loved it!!! Beautiful, emotional and heartbreaking story. I loved everything about this book- the characters, writing style and story. Michael was perfect for Josef. They both helped each other. I loved the relationship they had with each other. There were definitely tears at the end, I couldn't help myself when Josef was reading the letter and the book inscription. I dreaded every time Ingrid stopped by to visit her uncle. Silly, silly Ingrid. What did she expect at the end of the war??? She was very naive and easily influenced. I wasn't surprised about Heinrich. Hannah, Josef and Michael were wonderful characters. Hannah was so brave on her mission and she was always there to help Josef. I can't forget Kat/Dantes, he was a wonderful companion for Josef and Michael. Definitely recommend the book. I loved reading the author's story behind the book. The Dutch saved the lives of 30,000 Jews by hiding them in their basements, attics and barns. I can't imagine the atrocities that people suffered during WWII. I look forward to reading more books by the author. The cover of the book was simply beautiful and perfect for the story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bookouture through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Rhonda-Runner1 27 days ago
I knew in the first couple of pages that this was going to be a really great read and it really was. This story is set in Amsterdam during World War II. Josef Held is a widowed college math professor and Michael Blum is one of his Jewish students. Add in, secretary/clerk Heather Pender and you have a great story line. There are so many things that happen in this book and the author did a brilliant job weaving the story lines together. I absolutely loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves World War II stories. The characters are all pretty much likeable and I found myself on the edge of my seat rooting for Professor Held. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for an absolutely fantastic read in exchange for an honest review.
Foxlady99 27 days ago
A View Across The Rooftops tells the story of Professor Held, and did you know that Held is Hero in Dutch? This professor is very much a hero. In Amsterdam during WWII, the Dutch people fought against the Nazis, and one of the ways they did that was to hide Jewish people wherever and however they could. Professor Held did just that! This book was just wonderful! An amazing story, told by a gifted writer! At the end of this novel, which is a fiction book based on a true story, she tells you the story behind this book. This is where you learn what started her on this journey, and how this story would just not let her go. The question that kept me up last night, well after I had finished the book, was the same as it was for the author.... How far would I go to save another human being? We always say I would do anything, but would you? Could you go as far as these people did? Such an amazing book Suzanne Kelman!! Thank you for sharing this story!! I received this ebook from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
JM Free Kicks Fiction 22 days ago
Epic. There is no other way to describe this story. It is an incredible journey through occupied Amsterdam, from 1941 to after the war in 1947. The characters are realistic, and the author did an excellent job of creating a representative cross-section of people, from the Nazi sympathizer to the members of the Dutch Resistance. When it comes to books, I am not a crier, but I found myself tearing up several times at both the sheer beauty and the utter despair on the pages. This is one of my favorite books I have read this year, by far. For a detailed review, please visit my blog at Fireflies and Free Kicks Fiction Reviews. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a complimentary, pre-release, digital ARC of the book.
Anonymous 24 days ago
The subtitle calling this an "epic, heart-wrenching, and gripping WWII historical novel" is all true! It brought me to tears a couple of times and made it impossible for me to put it down. One of my best reads of 2019 for sure. If you love historical fiction as I do, then you will be moved by this book.
Anonymous 24 days ago
What a lovely book ! So beautifully written ! If you like historical fiction you must read this book !! In a time where Jewish people are being rounded up and taken away, who is brave enough to try to save them ? Who is willing to turn against their own people and help the enemy ? It is truly a love story, different kinds of love stories all in one book. Absolutely loved it !! #buythebook
Annette5151 24 days ago
Love this cover! This was a quick story that kept me up late to finish it! I enjoyed the story and am amazed at the characters determination in such hard times. Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for a great read!
Jeannie3doxie 26 days ago
Oh my Goodness! What a wonderful book! There is so much love, hope, and fear as well. This is a book I will put back to read again, I enjoyed it so much. It is a book you can't put down, every chapter is so enticing to keep reading, more and more. Thank you so much, Suzanne Kelman, the Publisher, and Netgalley for the chance to read and review this great book!
Shirleymca 26 days ago
Poetry of the Heart A story of the hearts of people in Nazi Occupied Amsterdam and how they are brought together to heal through love and poetry. The story of two young university students a young Dutch girl Elke and her Jewish boyfriend Michael. Josef a mathematics teacher at the university and his niece Ingrid and her Nazi boyfriend Heinrich. Hannah a teacher at the university and a resistance worker, her mother Greta and a young Jewish girl named Eva. When the Nazi's come to Amsterdam Michael has to run and hide because he is Jewish so he hides in Joseph's attic and is separated from Elke. How they are reunited is both tragic and a wonderful ending to their story. Josef puts his life at risk to save Michael and is helped by Hannah. Hannah works for the resistance building bicycles in her late father's shop. Hannah and Josef become close but it takes a long time for them to acknowledge it. Michael becomes like Josef's son and writes poetry much like Josef's late wife that died early into their marriage over 20 years before. Michael helps Josef return to life and Josef helps Michael realize life is still worth living even if he is Jewish in a country ran by the Nazi's. Hannah lives with her mother Greta who befriends a young Jewish girl named Eva and teaches her to knit. When the Nazi's take away Eva and her family Greta and Hannah are heartbroken. The story of Greta and Eva is sad but the love they shared was great. Hannah helps the resistance more and must help Josef and Michael when they become ill, even after the loss of her mother Greta. Ingrid falls in love with Heinrich a Nazi officer. Her uncle visits her once a week so she won't visit him because of Michael. She brings Heinrich to meet Josef and it is a tense time for Josef, then when he is ill he must try and hide Michael when Ingrid and Heinrich visit. His cat Dante helps with hiding noises made by Michael in the attic. When Heinrich turns on Ingrid and she needs help after the war Josef helps her. The horrible things the Nazi's did to the Jewish people and the Dutch people as well is mentioned in the book and written well but it is as a fact of the daily living and not over dramatized but stated as a person living through it would state it being Dutch at the time and living in Amsterdam. This book was a wonderful book to read. I has so many personal feelings with the characters and just warmed the heart to feel the love and compassion contained within the book. The characters were very realistic and believable. The interaction between the characters was written very well and the book was interesting from the beginning to the end. I had a hard time putting it down until I could finish it. I would definitely recommend the book to anyone. READING PROGRESS
Avid_Reader_LB4 26 days ago
Moving story of self sacrifice and endurance under incredible odds 5 well-deserved stars Incredibly moving, this fictional story of a few of the long-suffering residents of Amsterdam who risked their lives to help their vulnerable fellow citizens during the German Occupation is really top-notch. Josef and Hannah quietly dominate the story, but the biggest emotional punch is attached to the sad, taboo love story of Jewish university student Michael and Elke, his gentile lover, and young Eva, whose whole family is threatened by the German campaign against the Jewish community.. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time. Michael's fate could so easily have echoed that of Anne Frank, who experienced her own years sequestered in an Amsterdam attic with a view across the rooftops. Josef breaks his self-contained isolation to protect and bond with a young man in need of refuge and goes to ultimate lengths to keep Michael healthy and safe. Hannah finds her own way to fight back against the Germans' oppression and cruelty. And Josef's Nazi-sympathizer niece provides a high level of tension as she makes Josef's mission more perilous, plus her self-absorbed character gives a different perspective on how to face the disruptions and deprivation of wartime. It's an epic tale told through small lives and, despite some tearful, heart-wrenching events, was a joy to read. Thanks to publisher Bookouture and NetGalley for providing a complimentary advance copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest review.
MicheleReader 26 days ago
4.25 rating How many heart-wrenching WWII books can one read? Well, if they are like this book, I will keep reading them. Set in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, we meet mathematics professor Josef Held as life is starting to change all around him. He has been living a simple life with his cat devoid of any real emotion as he has never recovered from the death of his wife twenty years earlier. Only the simple pleasure of listening to his neighbor Mrs. Epstein play her piano is all he allows himself. But once his Jewish neighbor is murdered right before him, everything changes. And when his student Michael, a vibrant, artistic young Jewish man, needs his help, Josef must find the strength and courage to come to his rescue putting his own life in jeopardy. Inspired by a true story, this book was beautifully written and extremely moving showing that heroes exist beyond the battlefields. Many thanks to NetGalley, Bookouture and author Suzanne Kelman for the opportunity to read this impressive book in advance of its release.
RobinLovesReading 27 days ago
Oh my goodness! Evocatively unsettling yet hauntingly beautiful. That is what A View Across the Rooftops translates to me. The setting in this touching tale is that the Nazis have occupied Amsterdam. They are working feverishly at extinguishing any Jews, individually and collectively. Professor Josef Held is struggling as a math professor. On a personal level, he has never gotten over the loss of his wife. With regards to his job, it is become more and more difficult. Some of his students are simply not interested, as the war is in full swing. Before long, any Jewish students that he was teaching are forever gone. Josef is sympathetic and compassionate. One thing that soothes his soul is the nightly piano music that he hears his elderly neighbor Mrs. Epstein play. When she loses her life to the Nazis, Josef is more than devastated and even feels partially responsible. Right after this occurs someone comes banging on his door. Josef is concerned the Nazis are back, but why? The person at the door, however, is a terrified former student, Michael Blum, a Jew on the run for his life. Josef doesn't think twice. He pulls Michael inside and offers him a place to hide. This is not just for the night either. Josef manages to hide Michael for years. Things are incredibly scary and dangerous for both Josef and Michael. This is especially so because Josef's niece Ingrid is dating a high-level SS officer and is seemingly overly concerned for her uncle's welfare. Meanwhile, the story has some romantic elements. Before Michael had to flee, he was in a passionate relationship with Elke, a young Dutch woman, and they were forced apart. Furthermore, there is Hannah Pender. She is a woman who works at the college. Josef is surprisingly drawn to her, but since he believes her to be a married woman, he fights his powerful attraction to her. When you pull in all of these characters, Josef, Michael, Elke, Hannah, Ingrid, as well has her new fiance, Heinrich, the story is incredibly powerful - and increasingly dangerous. I read this book with bated breath. I cried, I grieved and I hoped. Josef's heroic actions were so powerful, as well as Michael's strength. After all of this, I was left both heartbroken and satisfied. Suzanne Kelman is a new name to me and she has floored me with this book. Thank you to NetGalley and to Bookouture for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
Anonymous 27 days ago
Professor Josef Held had never recovered from the loss of his beloved wife Sarah who tragically died 20 years ago giving birth to their first child and has no intention of ever letting anyone else into his life. He's a man stuck in a rut, after he finished teaching at the university, he walked home every day taking the same route, he fed his cat, ate a simple meal, opened his kitchen window and listened to his neighbor Mrs Florence Epstein play her piano. In 1941 the Nazi's arrive, Amsterdam was invaded, German soldiers are everywhere and it's a very dangerous place to live. When his niece Ingrid starts dating Major Von Strauss, her uncle Josef was horrified and it only got worse when she started working for the Germans. Jewish people are arrested, first it's men, then the Germans started to target all Jewish people and his elderly neighbor Mrs Epstein was killed. Michael Blum attended the university where professor Held worked, he had very little interest in mathematics, he's a dreamer, he's a real character, a poet and he fall in love with a fellow student Elke. Eventually Michael was banned from attending university as he's Jewish and he had no idea how dangerous his situation was? Desperate to give Michael and Elke’s love a chance to flourish, Josef gave Michael refuge in his attic, a act of bravery and resistance that changed both of their lives. As the dark days of war continued, they faced danger and betrayal, who can be trusted and their both on edge. The Dutch people suffered terribly during the war, all radio's were confiscated, they have no contact with the outside world, medicine was in short supply, food, fire wood, clothes and shoes wore out. So you can imagine what people thought about women like Ingrid who were working and sleeping with the enemy. Soon keeping Michael safe became extremely difficult when his niece announces her engagement to Major Von Strauss and they visit him at home with no prior notice Hannah Pender lived with her mother Clara, she's a attractive young widow and she worked at the universities office. Professor Held was totally unaware that the pretty widow was interested in him and during such a troubled times was it wise to start a new relationship? A View Across The Rooftops, is a story about WW II, love, hope, friendship, courage, risk, secrets and danger. I gave the book four stars. I enjoyed reading about the strong unbreakable bond formed between unlikely friends Joseph and Michael.