Special Feature: Excerpt from THE ORPHAN’S TALE by Pam Jenoff

I am excited to announce that I will be reviewing this book in March but I couldn’t wait to share a little teaser of this book with you my Dear Readers!

Pam Jenoff won me over with her novel THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH which was fantastic. So seeing this latest book about to hit the shelves made me really excited!

If you love dramatic, elegant writing and first rate story telling, then this is an author you don’t want to pass up! I am thrilled to have an except from THE ORPHAN’S TALE, Jenoff’s latest book for you to check out today!

But first here is a little summary of THE ORPHAN’S TALE!

Seventeen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier during the occupation of her native Holland. Heartbroken over the loss of the baby she was forced to give up for adoption, she lives above a small German rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep.

When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants, unknown children ripped from their parents and headed for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the baby that was taken from her. In a moment that will change the course of her life, she steals one of the babies and flees into the snowy night, where she is rescued by a German circus.

The circus owner offers to teach Noa the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their unlikely friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

EXCERPT

It has been three days since Erich returned unexpectedly early from work to our apartment. I threw myself into his arms. “I’m so glad to see you,” I exclaimed. “Dinner isn’t quite ready yet, but we could have a drink.” He spent so many nights at official dinners or buried in his study with papers. It seemed like forever since we’d shared a quiet evening together.

He did not put his arms around me but remained stiff. “Ingrid,” he said, using my full name and not the pet name he’d given me, “we need to divorce.”

“Divorce?” I wasn’t sure I had ever said the word before. Divorce was something that happened in a movie or a book about rich people. I didn’t know anyone who had ever done it—in my world you married until you died. “Is there another woman?” I croaked, barely able to manage the words. Of course there was not. The passion between us had been unbreakable—until now.

Surprise and pain flashed over his face at the very idea.

“No!” And in that one word I knew exactly the depths of his love and that this awful thing was hurting him. So why would he even say it? “The Reich has ordered all officers with Jewish wives to divorce,” he explained. How many, I wondered, could there possibly be? He pulled out some documents and handed them to me with smooth strong hands. The papers carried a hint of his cologne. There was not even a spot for me to sign, my agreement or disagreement irrelevant—it was fait accompli. “It has been ordered by the Führer,” he adds. His voice was dispassionate, as though describing the day-to-day matters that went on in his department. “There is no choice.”

“We’ll run,” I said, forcing the quaver from my voice. “I can be packed in half an hour.” Improbably I lifted the roast from the table, as though that was the first thing I would take. “Bring the brown suitcase.” But Erich stood stiffly, feet planted. “What is it?”

“My job,” he replied. “People would know I was gone.” He would not go with me. The roast dropped from my hands, plate shattering, the smell of warm meat and gravy wafting sickeningly upward. It was preferable to the rest of the immaculate table, a caricature of the perfect life I thought we’d had. The brown liquid splattered upward against my stockings, staining them.

I jutted my chin defiantly. “Then I shall keep the apartment.”

But he shook his head, reaching into his billfold and emptying the contents into my hands. “You need to go. Now.” Go where? My family was all gone; I did not have papers out of Germany. Still I found my suitcase and packed mechanically, as if going on holiday. I had no idea what to take.

Two hours later when I was packed and ready to go, Erich stood before me in his uniform, so very much like the man I had spied in the audience beyond the lights the day we met. He waited awkwardly as I started for the door, as if seeing out a guest.

I stood in front of him for several seconds, staring up beseechingly, willing his eyes to meet mine. “How can you do this?” I asked. He did not answer. This is not happening, a voice inside me seemed to say. In other circumstances, I would have refused to go. But I had been caught off guard, the wind knocked out of me by an unexpected punch. I was simply too stunned to fight. “Here.” I pulled off my wedding band and held it out. “This isn’t mine anymore.”

Looking down at the ring, his whole face seemed to fall, as if realizing for the first time the finality of what he was doing. I wondered in that moment if he would tear up the papers that decreed our marriage over and say we would face the future together, whatever the odds. He swiped at his eyes.

When his hand moved away the hardness of the “new Erich,” as I called him in the recent months when it had all seemed to change, reappeared. He pushed the ring away and it clattered to the floor. I hurried to pick it up, cheeks stinging from the roughness of his once-gentle touch. “You keep it,” he said. “You can sell it if you need money.” As if the one thing that bound us together meant so little to me. He fled the apartment without looking back and in that moment the years we shared seemed to evaporate and disappear.

Of course I do not know Herr Neuhoff well enough to tell him any of this. “I’ve left Berlin for good,” I say, firmly enough to foreclose further discussion.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for featuring this excerpt for the tour!

    Reply

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