The Medallion

The Medallion

by Cathy Gohlke

Hardcover

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Overview

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen—Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war—if any of them survive—is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496429667
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 345,805
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)

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The Medallion 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
PianoLady831 12 hours ago
In the world of fiction, a novel by Cathy Gohlke is pure gold. Whether it’s set during the Civil War times like the most excellent William Henry Is a Fine Name, or during World War II as in her later novels, Gohlke’s characters envelop you into another era and help you see things in a different and fresh way. When it comes to what Christian fiction strives to be, Cathy Gohlke is simply one of the very best of authors. There’s no way any words of mine can do justice to The Medallion in a review, so I’ll just express some of my feelings. First of all, the basics … Gohlke’s writing is exquisite; historical detail is beyond impressive; characters are multilayered and complex; the story flows steadily and is hard impossible to put down. The Holocaust setting in Warsaw doesn’t make for an easy read, but it is compelling. Nothing is predictable and there are some fascinating twists. The Medallion earns top scores on an entertainment level alone. Now for some subjective thoughts. The Medallion is basically the story of two couples – Sophie and Janek, Rosa and Itzhak – trying to survive during the Nazi occupation of Poland, but a lot of stories have been written with a similar theme. What elevates and sets this one apart? There’s rich historical detail, but it’s not primarily a historical novel. There’s tons of suspense, but it isn’t really a suspense novel. The Medallion doesn’t fit into any box that I can think of. Rather, it’s a story of people – their courage, motivations, willingness to risk everything, and faith during one of the darkest times in history. In other words, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. “Fear is an ungainly enemy. Give it a foothold and it will control your life.” – Pan Gadomski I confess to not buying into society’s concept of “celebrity.” If things like Hollywood magazines and talk shows depended on people like me, they would disappear due to lack of interest. Rather, the true celebrities and stars are people like the characters in this story – people with the strength and grit to make impossibly heart wrenching decisions and sacrifice regarding the safety of a child; people with a courage they never dreamed they possessed and a willingness to risk their lives in order to help the helpless; people of faith who never lost sight of God’s presence during the darkest and hopeless times of Hitler’s reign. The Medallion may be fiction, but it is inspired by factual accounts and we know the characters are drawn from real heroes during this devastating time. No one can read The Medallion without being changed for the better. It will challenge you, make you look deep inside yourself. This a story that everyone should read. I’ll end with quote from Pan Bukowski that should minister to all of us … “Remember the Red Sea … Adonai makes a way when there is no way.” Very highly recommended. I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and Tyndale Publishing. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
TheBeccaFiles 1 days ago
The Medallion is one of the most poignant, memorable masterpieces of WWII historical fiction that I have ever read! Not only did it instantly grip my attention, but it held my heart captive from cover to cover. Cathy's respect for the reality of the times is clearly visible as she weaves heartbreak and hope into a novel that will stay with you forever. The majority of the story is told through the eyes of Sophie and Rosa, however later on there are a few chapters that switch over to their husbands. How their journeys unfolded allowed the author to weave in the lives of several real-life heroes from the times. As someone who reads a lot of historical fiction and nonfiction about WWII, the seamless combination of the two had my heart in tatters. When an author can blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction while maintaining respect and appreciation for the reality---a masterpiece is truly created. A question I found myself asking repeatedly while reading was "what would I have done?" Considering the events, today we know everything turned out. We know how people were tricked and manipulated into horrible things--on all sides of the fight. Just like you would shout at a character from a scary movie "don't open the door!" knowing what was sure to happen next, we could look at characters and say "don't get on the train!" or "don't go with the guards!" or even simply "it's a trap!" but the truth of the matter is that we already know how events would unfold. What if we were facing similar circumstances without having any idea what the outcome would be? What if we were facing almost certain death no matter which direction we turned? What if we were responsible for choosing between those same paths for our loved ones? Or even perfect strangers? Then when it came to personal conflict between people--when no one was free from suffering--I couldn't help but wonder who my heart sided with more. One of the Nazi goals in WWII was to dehumanize Jews so that it would lessen the blow of what they were truly doing. Whether they were the actual people or not, when you see events through the eyes of someone who was present at the time--it changes and affects you irreversibly. This novel is an absolute MUST-READ. It's instantly being placed on my favorites pile and it's one that I know will stay with me. I cannot recommend this one enough! *I received a copy of this book from the author and CelebrateLit. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Mama_Cat 3 days ago
The Medallion is outstanding! The primary setting of WWII Warsaw is eye-opening, the characters strong in their faith and well-defined. The plot is complex and amazing, bringing to life challenges and horrors beyond what we could imagine. The writing style is excellent and compelling, and led this reader so deeply into the story that I could feel the struggles, fears, and joys of the men and women. There are times it tore my heart, and other times it served up a blessing. The lives of two couples from Warsaw are inextricably intertwined. They didn’t know each other before or during the war, but three of the four were brought together by a beautiful, loving little girl in postwar England. Itzhak Dunovich married Rosa; they lived in Vilna, Lithuania with his parents. When receiving word of her father’s murder by the Gestapo in 1939, they went to help Rosa’s mother Marya in Warsaw, Poland. During the time they are there, Marya begins to heal, unlike Europe. Poles are restricted and their food is rationed; those who are Jewish, as Itzhak, Rosa, and Marya are, had to move into the Jewish ghetto, separated from the rest of the population. As an electrician, Itzhak has been blessed to find work, even though most homes are without power. After the birth of his beautiful daughter Ania, he feels he must return to Lithuania to bring his parents to Warsaw. He thought he would only be gone for a month, but that month multiplied until, even sharing the apartment with others, they were out of money. Sophie and Janek were happily married before he left to serve in the Polish military, except Sophie hadn’t been able to carry a baby to term. She worked in the library until the bombing in 1939 took out power and water to most of Warsaw. Sophie went to her apartment building to find the entire street gone and half of the building she lived in torn away. What this would mean for the tiny child she carried that Janek didn’t yet know about, she could only trust God for. One thing a neighbor had told her frequently was to “remember the Red Sea”, that Adonai will make a way. She lived with the godfather to Sophie and Janek, Pan Gadomsky, and his daughter Terri. When the Germans began to kill academics, Jews, and families of Polish fighter pilots, Pan Gadomsky obtained new identities, jobs, and apartments for Terri and Sophie. Sophie wants to work with those in the underground to help other Poles as well as Jews in the ghetto, choosing to risk her life as others risked theirs to help her. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe this novel. We follow the prayers of the primary characters, both Jewish and Christian, which is one aspect I appreciated. I can’t imagine the devastating research the author did for this novel. She shares who in the novel were real people that were shining lights in the darkness of their moment in history. Real or fictitious, the characters are three-dimensional and engaging. For those who like WWII fiction or want to learn more about it, this is a great historical read. Those who came through these terrible years were strong and determined to trust the Lord who makes a way through the impossible. I highly recommend it. From a thankful heart: I received a copy of this from CelebrateLit and the publisher, and this is my honest review.
Ourpugs 4 days ago
The Medallion A wonderful book about a young girl. Set during the war when the Jews were treated very bad. Very sad time. Charlotte had several different names due to all the changes in life. She is found by Sophia who loved her so much. Even though the book is sad in parts it is a very inspiring story. I really enjoyed it. It is a long book that is fast reading. Definitely kept my attention. I don’t normally read books that are big as this one. But I am so glad I did. Definitely could tell the author did a lot of research for the book. So special that the author put so much time in the book. I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher through Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write an positive review. This is my own opinion.
Stardust_Fiddle 6 days ago
This is one of the most difficult books that I have ever read. In all honesty, were it not for the fact that I was reading it for review, I would have set it aside or at least read it in small portions. I took English classes focused on the Holocaust during college and have read a fair amount of literature from and about that time period. However, Cathy Gohlke’s “The Medallion” really struck a nerve. It took me a while to adjust to the alternating viewpoints of the chapters, which eventually converge, because from the very beginning I fell headlong into the harrowing world Gohlke describes and had to reset my mind when the characters changed with the next chapter so that I did not confuse one storyline with the other. Several of the characters in the story are real historical figures, and some of the plotline is inspired by true events. That, coupled with the focus on relationships and hardships both during and after WWII, truly tore at my heartstrings. Be forewarned: this is not a light, happily-ever-after read. The devastation and horror are compounded by the realization that they are historically accurate. This story raises many tough questions, some of which are addressed in the discussion questions provided at the end of the book. “The Medallion” takes readers from the early days of the war to its aftermath, and the journey is heartbreaking. Sophie Kumiega is not Jewish but encounters the dangers and desolation wrought by the German occupation of Poland, leading her to work for the underground and to take over care of a Jewish toddler, Ania. Through Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich, Ania’s parents, readers witness life in the Warsaw ghetto and what comes after. Unlike many Holocaust narratives, “The Medallion” does not take place in a concentration camp, save for a brief scene. Learning about the work of the underground and those working within that network to save lives sheds light on the heroics of those who challenged the Nazi agenda. Just as compelling is part two, which takes place after the war ends. It is an important reminder of how unsettled and dangerous the world still was for the refugees. Post-traumatic stress plays a role as well, and I was glad that the author included this because it was doubtless a struggle for all of the survivors, including those who were not Jewish, and obviously the struggle did not end when peace was declared. The fate of the children aided through the underground network and what it meant for their future becomes a key element in the second section. Although “The Medallion” is heartrending and sobering, I would still recommend it, especially for anyone who is not familiar with the impact of the German occupation of Poland during WWII. The faith element offers both a refuge in the midst of the tragedy and the hope of redemption. One thing that opened my eyes was that the Jewish aversion to Jesus resulted in part because the German oppressors claimed to be Christians. Still, faith in God guides the characters, Jewish and Gentile alike, throughout the trials of war and its reverberations, and it is the same faith that is available to each and every one of us today. This is one of the main messages of the story, that true faith means taking action and putting others before oneself, hopefully causing onlookers to question their unbelief. I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
LilacDreams 6 days ago
The Medallion is inspired by the true stories of Isaac Dogim and Irena Sendler. As the Nazi decrees against the Jews in Poland became ever more restrictive, Jolanta (Irena) smuggles children out of the ghetto. One of them is Ania, Itzhak Dunovich’s (Isaac) daughter. Itzhak’s wife Rosa broke in half the Tree of Life medallion given to her by Itzhak on their wedding day, and put half of it on Ania. Sophie is an Englishwoman married to a Pole, Janek, a pilot. When the Germans bomb Poland in September, 1939, she doesn’t know if he’s alive or dead. Throughout the war, she helps where she can: finding hiding places for Jewish friends, bringing food, taking in Ania. Friends are killed, food is scarce, and treachery is everywhere. Late in the war, an American approaches Sophie in Warsaw. He’s been sent by Janek to get her out of Poland. She claims Ania is their daughter and won’t leave without her. She’s convinced herself that Ania’s family is dead. But Itzhak is still alive, and he wants his daughter back. The conditions in wartime Poland are well-known. Reading the stories of Sophie, Itzhak and Rosa are difficult as I imagine being in their shoes. The Jews’ experience in the Ponary Forest is horrifying. Rosa and Itzhak are easy to love. Sophie was easy to cheer for while she was in Poland, but not so much after she returned to England, although her mindset is understandable. This story will draw you in and not let go.
RobinWillson 18 days ago
"The Germans do their best to make us forget who we are, Whose we are. Not just today, but for all time. We must work that much harder so that we don’t forget. How can we hope that the world will not forget us if we forget ourselves?” Powerful story, a recounting of true events and people, adding a fictional piece that illustrates and brings the time and people to life. What it may have been like to live during the time of Hitler and the those who destroyed so many other people, with such cruelty you would never believe possible. This was in Poland after it was taken over by the Germans, enslaved, crushed. Two main families who fought every day to live. Of few survivors, the torture they endured. Of people who did all they could to save as many people as possible, at their own risk. Yet their hearts wouldn't let them do anything less, always wishing they could have done more. ". . . when someone is drowning, you jump in to save them, whether or not you can swim." How this whole experience affected the minds of these persecuted people, trying to survive, witnessing so much inhumane suffering, losing their families. And the amazing foresight of many. This story also tells of the new families that came about as their own were torn apart. How love can continue, lives reformed. How much a difference even one person can make. And the heroes that were born. It makes you realize how much love and family mean to you. What it is that makes you who you are, what holds you together. What is really most important to you in the life that you are living. It also makes you appreciate the victims of persecution from this time. Making you realize how quickly things like this can happen under the wrong leadership, and hope that it will never happen again. "“Adonai makes a way when there appears no way. It is His specialty . Remember the Red Sea." The words of her old friend came back to her, just as they did so often when Sophie felt at her wits’ end." Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. 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.” #TheMedallion #CathyGohlke #NetGalley #BooksYouCanFeelGoodAbout
RobinWillson 18 days ago
"The Germans do their best to make us forget who we are, Whose we are. Not just today, but for all time. We must work that much harder so that we don’t forget. How can we hope that the world will not forget us if we forget ourselves?” Powerful story, a recounting of true events and people, adding a fictional piece that illustrates and brings the time and people to life. What it may have been like to live during the time of Hitler and the those who destroyed so many other people, with such cruelty you would never believe possible. This was in Poland after it was taken over by the Germans, enslaved, crushed. Two main families who fought every day to live. Of few survivors, the torture they endured. Of people who did all they could to save as many people as possible, at their own risk. Yet their hearts wouldn't let them do anything less, always wishing they could have done more. ". . . when someone is drowning, you jump in to save them, whether or not you can swim." How this whole experience affected the minds of these persecuted people, trying to survive, witnessing so much inhumane suffering, losing their families. And the amazing foresight of many. This story also tells of the new families that came about as their own were torn apart. How love can continue, lives reformed. How much a difference even one person can make. And the heroes that were born. It makes you realize how much love and family mean to you. What it is that makes you who you are, what holds you together. What is really most important to you in the life that you are living. It also makes you appreciate the victims of persecution from this time. Making you realize how quickly things like this can happen under the wrong leadership, and hope that it will never happen again. "“Adonai makes a way when there appears no way. It is His specialty . Remember the Red Sea." The words of her old friend came back to her, just as they did so often when Sophie felt at her wits’ end." Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. 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.” #TheMedallion #CathyGohlke #NetGalley #BooksYouCanFeelGoodAbout
swissgranny 21 days ago
What a poignant, heart-wrenching, but beautifully written and memorable story! I’m having a hard time attempting to put my feelings about this book into words. The cover is captivating, and when I read the description of the book, I knew I had to read it. Cathy Gohlke is an incredibly gifted author. Her writing is clear, concise and flows beautifully. Her exquisite imagery and masterfully crafted characters bring this slice of history, as incredibly tragic and unimaginable as it was, to life. Many of the characters and events are based on real people and happenings during the German invasion and occupancy of Poland in WWII. Man’s inhumanity to man can be unbelievable and is clearly shown in the pages of this book, yet also present are the heroic examples of those who came to the aid of the Jewish people at the peril of their own lives. Gohlke’s impeccable historical detail is impressive, and I enjoyed the Note to Readers at the back of the book describing the inspiration for the book and some of the people her characters are based on. Even though the story is based on tragic events, there were uplifting messages of faith, courage, and hope woven into it. This book is a compelling, riveting read, and one I won’t soon forget. It’s destined for my “keeper shelf” and will definitely be one of my top reads of the year. I would recommend this to those who enjoy outstanding and memorable historical fiction. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
MaureenST 22 days ago
How could a book based on fact and telling about true events have even happened, a world gone mad? Hate so very evil, and then I think, all these years later that hate is still there. We are putting faces on those that lived in, mostly Poland, during that horrible time in history. The author does a wonderful job bringing this time alive, and we need not forget. We also get a twist with a survivor child and the emotions of all that has happened come to a head. You will see how broken hearts mend, and who is there in the end having survived, but how? A don’t miss read, and it is that good! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Tyndale House, and was not required to give a positive review.
3C 23 days ago
Cathy Gohlke has crafted another compelling World War II novel that digs into the complexities of that dark period in history. Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich are a young married couple who are caught in the tragic whirlwind of Nazi occupation of Poland. Sophie Kumiega is a British bride whose husband Janek is a member of the Polish Air Force. The characters live their difficult lives, doing what they must to survive, and not always successfully. There is enough light romance to elicit an emotional response, but the novel is full of credibility by an author who has respect for historical accuracy and those lives these events altered and frequently shattered. The atmosphere of Warsaw is pervasive with looming disaster, and the suspense is palpable toward the conclusion. Enjoying history, I have read a number of books regarding the war, along with hearing many stories from family members who served. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
WildflowerMom 24 days ago
An epic story, expertly crafted, based on real people and events. Set mainly during World War 2 in Nazi occupied Poland, the tragic events and experiences of two families show the power of sacrificial love--mother for a child in particular. The sacrifice for even a stranger is shown and challenged me to think about what I might do in a similar situation. The author does a good job of conveying a bit of hope in the midst of the horrors of war, and mans inhumanity to man. A thread of hope and faith binds the brokenhearted, with reminders that God ..."will make a way when it seems there is no way." This is not an easy read, but an important tale that should be told, so as not to be forgotten. Not a book for the faint of heart, but one that will make readers think and feel deeply along with the characters, leaving a lasting impression. Recommend for WW2 fans who like books with more realistic people and events. The author's notes at the end are very interesting, filling in facts and her inspiration for the story. Keep the tissues handy. (An ebook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are completely my own.)
Cheri5 3 months ago
This was a hard book to read. It was a wonderful, thought provoking, incredibly sad yet tinged with hope book. I have never read a book that painted such a vivid picture of the starvation, torture, and resilience of the human spirit as this book. This is a book that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned. I wanted to read this book because I wanted to know more about this time in history and the author did not disappoint. I felt as though I was living the war with the various characters, and then the aftermath of it also. I loved how she took us through the lives of several different people and how they all interconnected; the things people had to do in order to survive the war and then to consider – while physically they were still alive, would they ever truly be the same again? If you have any questions about the history and brutality of the Nazi invasion, I encourage you to pick up this book. It’s one that you will never forget – I know I won’t. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.