Karolina's Twins: A Novel

Karolina's Twins: A Novel

by Ronald H. Balson

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Karolina's Twins: A Novel by Ronald H. Balson

In the tradition of The Nightingale, Sarah's Key, and Lilac Girls, comes a saga inspired by true events of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to return to Poland and fulfill a promise, from Ronald H. Balson, author of the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

“Readers who crave more books like Balson’s Once We Were Brothers and Kristin Hannah’s bestselling The Nightingale will be enthralled by Karolina’s Twins.” —Booklist (starred review)

"A heart-wrenching but ultimately triumphant story." —Chicago Tribune

She made a promise in desperation
Now it's time to keep it

Lena Woodward, elegant and poised, has lived a comfortable life among Chicago Society since she immigrated to the US and began a new life at the end of World War II. But now something has resurfaced that Lena cannot ignore: an unfulfilled promise she made long ago that can no longer stay buried.

Driven to renew the quest that still keeps her awake at night, Lena enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart. Behind Lena’s stoic facade are memories that will no longer be contained. She begins to recount a tale, harkening back to her harrowing past in Nazi-occupied Poland, of the bond she shared with her childhood friend Karolina. Karolina was vivacious and beautiful, athletic and charismatic, and Lena has cherished the memory of their friendship her whole life. But there is something about the story that is unfinished, questions that must be answered about what is true and what is not, and what Lena is willing to risk to uncover the past. Has the real story been hidden these many years? And if so, why?

Two girls, coming of age in a dangerous time, bearers of secrets that only they could share.

Just when you think there could not be anything new to ferret out from World War II comes Karolina's Twins, a spellbinding new novel by the bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers and Saving Sophie. In this richly woven tale of love, survival and resilience during some of the darkest hours, the unbreakable bond between girlhood friends will have consequences into the future and beyond.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250089052
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Series: Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart , #3
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,490
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of Saving Sophie and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.
RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues, including villages in Poland that inspired his first novel, Once We Were Brothers.

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Karolina's Twins 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read Mr Balsons two previous novels. As so often is the case, the next book is sub standard. Not this time.!!!! This author is amazing, draws you in by the first 10 pages or so. This story shows you the depth of a mothers love and a dear friend keeping a promise. Amazing book by a gifted story teller. Highly recommend this and everything else he has written!!!!!! Karen from Michigan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved, loved this story!!
bongie 15 days ago
This is not a great book but I did finish it. Not up to par with Once We Were Brothers..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredible story of survival, love and promises. Couldn't wait to get to the end so I would know what happened, but I also hated for this beautiful story to end. Cannot wait for his next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BettyMaddox More than 1 year ago
I was really put off by the corny device used to tell an otherwise interesting story - who would believe a lawyer would meet week after week with an old lady who is determined to tell her life story before she gets to the point about why she wants to find 2 babies born 70 years ago?
onemused More than 1 year ago
"Karolina's Twins" was a heart-wrenching, captivating tale of what it was like to be Jewish in Poland during World War II. Lena was 17 when the war began and her family was executed. She sought to survive in a time when survival was extremely difficult. Although she has pushed down her memories of that time, after her husband dies (70 years after the war), she seeks to hire the PI and attorney team of Liam and Caroline to hunt down Karolina's twin girls who were born during the war and thrown from a railway car heading to Auschwitz. Lena and Karolina never knew what had happened to them, and before Karolina died, she made Lena promise that she would find them when the war is over. Lena tells her stories in episodic chunks from the beginning through the end of the war, as well as a brief recap of what happened after the war. As she is telling her story from 70 years in the future, it reads with more distance than a tale told in the present would. It focuses on facts, events, and people without so much suspense or emotions as a present-tense novel would. This does not make it any less emotional or easier to walk away from- Lena's story is gripping, and it was really difficult not to read the ending and know what happens before you get there slowly through all the events and pains of the war and concentration camps. I could not put it down! Lena's story is interrupted by her son, Arthur, and his case to declare her mentally incompetent and secure his inheritance. I felt that I could have done without this part of the story/would have liked it more without. However, Arthur challenges the story, pointing out the questions the reader may also have (e.g. why wait 70 years?) and rushes the investigation. That being said, I think this could have been approached in another way as well, but it did make it necessary for Lena to hire a lawyer so that she could work with both Caroline and Liam. Overall, it's a really incredible story of humanity and the ability to endure when all seems lost. I highly recommend it. Please note that I received an ARC through a goodreads giveaway. All opinions are my own.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Karolina's Twins is classified as fiction, but what makes it unusual is the way it runs on two levels. The fictional plot is on the top level and the bottom level is the story of a real Holocaust survivor. The protagonist is Lena Woodward, an elderly Holocaust survivor who grew up in Poland before the War. She and her husband eventually emigrated to the United States where they became wealthy. After his death and before her own, she wants to find out what happened to twin girls who were lost during the War. She hires the Taggarts to find them. Catherine Lockhart-Taggart is a lawyer and her husband, Liam Taggart, is a private investigator. To explain her quest for the twins, she tells her story to Catherine. This gripping tale breathes reality and was inspired by the life of Fay Scharf Waldman. Episode by episode, Lena describes what happened to her and how she survived. She begins by remembering her happy family life before the German invasion of Poland and her close friendship with Karolina. When the German army moved in, the hungry times began and most of the Jews were forced to cram themselves into a small ghetto on the edge of town. Unwanted children and old people were soon shipped out to unknown destinations. When Lena's family is arrested, she escapes by hiding in the attic of their home. When it is taken over by a German family, she leaves, sneaks into the ghetto where someone tells her the Germans have killed her father, mother, and disabled brother. Lena is lucky enough to get a job in the Shop, where skilled women sewed uniform coats for the Germans. The manager, David Woodward, is Jewish and attracted to Lena. He recruits her as a courier for the Polish underground and rewards her with extra food. When Lena finds Karolina also working in the Shop, they decide to live together. To get clean water, they have to sneak outside the ghetto. Karolina's lover is a German soldier and he sometimes steals food and fuel for them. They are young, healthy, and strong enough to survive semi-starvation, living in the disease ridden ghetto, and working long hours under miserable conditions. Before the Shop is closed, David is sent somewhere by the Germans and Karolina's soldier is transferred to the Russian front. Lena and Karolina are sent to another work camp where there will be no way to hide their babies. On the journey, they abandon the twins to save their lives and Karolina is shot. Lena is eventually sent to Auschwitz. Towards the end of the War, the Germans close Auschwitz down and Lena manages to escape from the death march of the few surviving workers. She returns to her hometown where she meets and marries David. Jews are no longer welcome there so they leave and eventually reach the United States. While Lena is telling her story, her son begins legal action to gain control over his aging mother and her estate. He believes the twins only exist in her imagination and she has become mentally disabled. The progress of this lawsuit is cleverly fitted in between the episodes in Lena's tale. Since the author is a lawyer, the legal steps are well described. The plot tension revolves around one question. Can Liam Taggart find the girls in Poland before Lena is declared incompetent and turned over to the custody of her son? Before the ending, long hidden secrets must be revealed. Quill says: A gripping story and well worth reading.
jayfwms More than 1 year ago
I never tire of stories based in and around the Holocaust. This is perhaps the best I have read. The stories of inhumanity are not new, but the personalization in this book very quickly got me emotionally involved. No matter that it is fiction, your heart aches for these people and you share emotionally in their ups and downs. The characters are three-dimensional whether in the history or the present day. Much of the good and bad of what it means to be human is on display. For days after finishing this book, I would have an anecdote from the story cross my mind and I would become instantly emotional.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a free electronic ARC of this novel from Netgalley, Ronald H. Balson, and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for sharing your work with me. Lena Woodward is an elderly, widowed Polish holocaust survivor. She involves Chicago private investigator Liam Taggard and his lawyer wife, Catherine Lockhard, in her search for twin babies lost from the train when she and her friends Karolina and Muriel were being shipped from the Chrzanow ghetto, where she, husband David and Karolina were forced labor in a Natzi coat and clothing factory, to the Gross-Rosen work camp. Karolina was shot soon after the transfer in Poland, attempting to escape. Lena and David were re-united after the war in the US and settled in Chicago, where they were successful in business, owning men's clothing stores and small neighborhood groceries. Lena asks Liam and Catherine to help her fulfill a promise made to Karolina to find out what happened to those twins. Her son Arthur is disbelieving, not hearing of the twins at all, nor the promise Lena had made to Karolina to find the babies after the war until just 4 years before, shortly before the death of his father David. Thinking his mother is simply obsessing on the war experiences she never spoke of and is facing dementia, Arthur introduces a competency hearing and sues for guardianship of her estate. I found this novel to be exceptional. Ronald Balson has portrayed this family history in a forthright, empathetic manner, including all the facts involved in the escape from the Natzi's terroristic reign.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why no sample?