Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope Book Review

Motherhood is one of the most profound and challenging experiences of a woman’s life. Wartime and the sheer will to survive forces a mother to make decisions that would otherwise not even be considered.

In 2015, Wendy Holden published Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope. The book tells the story of three Jewish women incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War II. Not knowing the fate of their husbands or their families, Rachel, Anka, and Priska know that being pregnant is a death sentence. They do everything they can to survive, not knowing if they or their babies will not just live, but one day see the light of freedom.

I loved this book. In telling the story of these three women, Holden brings the cold and dangerous reality of this era of history. It is a reminder, in the most in your face way possible, how quickly hate and prejudice can descend into destruction and murder. I felt as if I was in these camps with these women, instead of reading about them generations after the Holocaust happened.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.


The Royal Governess: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood Book Review

Sometimes, when we are growing up, those who influence us are not our immediate family. It could be a teacher, a coach, or a counselor whose teaches us lessons long after we have grown up.

Wendy Holden‘s 2020 novel, The Royal Governess: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood, follows Marion Crawford as she worked as the governess for the future Queen Elizabeth II and her late sister, Princess Margaret. Born to a commoner family in Scotland, she was known to the royal family as “Crawfie”. Taking the job at the young age of 22, she spent 16 years of her life raising the next English Queen. While doing so, she tried to give her charges a sense of normalcy and a glimpse of what life was like outside the palace walls. As time passes, she watches the young girls grow into young women, King Edward III abdicate the thrown, and World War II forever change the fate of the western world.

This book is fantastic. I wish I had had a teacher like Marion when I was young. She is caring, compassionate, stern when she needs to be, and able to educate her pupils in a way that goes beyond what can be found in textbooks. I also appreciated that in the novel, Ms. Holden does not judge Wallis Simpson as other works of fiction have. Depending on the material and the perspective, she is either the wicked woman who tempted a king away from his throne or a romantic icon who followed her heart.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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