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Jacob's Oath: A Novel Paperback – November 4, 2014
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From Publishers Weekly
As he did in his first novel, The List, NBC news correspondent and National Jewish Book Award–winner Fletcher explores the experiences of Jews in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust in this engrossing, if unsettling, thriller. Jacob Klein survives the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but was unable to save his younger brother, Maxie, from death at the hands of an SS guard, Hans Seeler. At a medical facility where Jacob is being treated after his liberation in April 1945, he&'s dumbfounded to see Seeler, who gets away. Sustained by his desire for revenge, Jacob joins a group of Jews who are also seeking Nazis to execute. Their quest alternates with the story of Sarah Kaufman, who survived the war in Berlin (and whose sister was a schoolmate of Jacob&'s sister), but finds that she still must struggle to stay alive after a Russian soldier brutalizes her. The taut prose and multidimensional protagonists help make this a page-turner. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency. (Oct.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Jacob survives Bergen-Belsen, in part because of his vow to kill the SS guard who beat his younger brother to death. Resisting recruitment to go fight to establish Israel, he returns to Heidelberg, his pre-Nazi home and also the home of his brother’s murderer. In Berlin, Sarah, who has managed to hide from the Nazis for three years, is raped by a Russian soldier when the Russians take the city. She too has vowed to go to Heidelberg, the place where she and her missing lover agreed to meet if they were separated. The only Jews in Heidelberg, Jacob and Sarah meet and fall in love, but Jacob’s vow to avenge his brother threatens to destroy their chance for happiness. Fletcher, formerly NBC News’ Tel Aviv bureau chief and author of The List (2011), has crafted a moving love story, a vivid portrait of a devastated and chaotic Germany immediately after the war’s end, and a remarkably insightful look into the minds of two survivors of the Holocaust. Fletcher’s style is spare and graceful, and it enhances the power of this small gem of a novel. --Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Jacob Klein, a Jewish survivor of Bergen-Belsen, was discharged from hospital after undergoing treatment and was making his way to Heidelberg, his home town, in the hope of finding his home. He was also determined to find "The Rat" an SS Guard who had murdered his younger brother, Maxi. He was witness to the murder. He made an oath that he would kill The Rat as revenge for his brother's murder.
The book relates his experiences in detail of his quest, including a love affair with Sarah Kaufmann, who had also been through hell escaping the Nazis. He met her in Heidelberg to which she had also returned. The Rat was also from Heidelberg. Both main characters went through hell during the Nazi occupation and survived their ordeal. They were the only Jews in Heidelberg at that time. Sarah spent three years hiding from the Nazis and was eventually raped by a Russian soldier.
The book has everything in it to make it an engrossing and thrilling read. The love relationship between Jacob and Sarah is very dramatic. Both characters were scarred from the nightmare of their experiences. Jacob is determined to take revenge, while Sarah felt that he must try and put his vengeful feelings behind him and get on with their future together.
Sarah had a lover before Jacob, His name was Hoppi and she had fallen pregnant and lost her baby. Hoppi had disappeared and his fate was unknown, presumably dead. She had visions of seeing her previous lover with whom she still felt very attached.
This story makes for a gripping read from the beginning to end. The ending is very unexpected.
This book deserves a 5-star rating and it is one of few novels written about the immediate post-World War 2 period in Germany.
Jacob's Oath can be a "page turner" if allowed. But, it is best to slow down and savor the language and consider the history and depth of emotion for a truly spectacular reading experience.
I highly recommend Jacob's Oath, Fletcher's fourth published book and second outstanding novel.