A character-driven novel, The Orphan’s Tale opens with an article about a traveling museum of circus memorabilia drawing the attention of an old woman in a nursing home. She goes to the museum to look at a boxcar she recognizes from a photograph. The story is a flashback of her memories to Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII. The setting is a traveling circus.

The basic plot takes place in 1940s Europe. A young girl becomes pregnant and is tossed out of her home. Sired by a Nazi officer, the infant is taken from her immediately after birth. Ostracized by her family, she takes a job as a cleaner in a railroad station, sleeping on a pallet. One evening she hears the buzzing whimper of dozens of infants crammed into a boxcar. She takes one and is shortly found hiding in the forest; the girl is not a Jew, the infant, however, is circumcised. A circus owner rescues them both and provides shelter. The girl learns how to fly (trapeze). Threatening SS officers, escapes, hiding, and learning the ‘ropes’ of the circus is her life.

Liked. It’s an unusual take on the WWII genre. The ominous aura of the Nazi regime is there and characters lives are driven by these horrible events – but, the war itself is not the primary focus. This is a story of the bonds among the circus people, the seriousness and dangers of their art. It also tells of the sacrifices they make for each other, and strangers as well.

Didn’t like. The title is misleading, imo. The only ‘orphan’ in the book is a peripheral character that adults protect. They alter their own lives for his benefit – but, he’s a baby who has no ‘tale’ to tell. Narration is problematic in areas in that the male voices are not well differentiated. Just my opinion, you may find it peachy. Based on the serious content, the happy circus musical intro and closing should be removed. It’s jarring and doesn’t fit well with this book, at all.

The Orphan Tale is narrated by Jennifer Wydra and Kyla Garcia – with the comment above, there are no issues. The production is fine. There are other reviewers that criticize the accents – but, I’m neither German nor French so … they sound fine – shoot me.

No sex, no language issues, nothing offensive anywhere – suitable for anyone – but a child wouldn’t grasp the dire situations. The Orphan Tale is thirteen hours of listening, released in February of 2017 by Harlequin Audio.



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