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The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival Paperback – Print, July 29, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
The book starts off with Hansel and Gretel (renamed to hide their 'Jewishness') being left to fend for themselves in a Poland forest. Their father and stepmother took them there to save them from the Nazis, which were close on their tale. Although Hansel and Gretel are only children, they are incredibely smart and strong willed. Gretel leads the way with her younger brother in tote, as they brave the forest in search of someone to take them in. After a few days of this, this find a little cottage at the edge of a small village. The cottage is inhabited by Magda, "the witch." Although a bit frightening at first, Magda is really harmless and in the end, she is willing to risk everything to save Hansel and Gretel from the Germans. This is a new twist on the classic fairytale. It includes many of the original elements of the 'real' story, such as the trail of bread crumbs and the oven. There are also, of course, many new characters who were not in the fairytale. This includes the beautiful Nelka (Magda's neice), and Telek, the outsider. Both characters play a pivotal role in the lives of Hansel and Gretel, and help to shape their characters. Nelka and Telek also bring a bit of romance into the novel, to lighten up things a bit. I would also have to say that Telek is my favorite character.
I really really enjoyed this book. This is not for the light-hearted. It features some truly horrific events that occur. I knew when I picked up the book, it was based on the WWII era, but for some reason I did not expect to read some of the things I read. This includes gas chambers and mutilation of children.Read more ›
The interweaving of fairytale motifs with this war story was perplexing. I appreciated the undoing of the usual stereotypes: the stepmother was protective, not evil; the witch was nurturing, not selfish; the oven was a haven, not a weapon; and the forest was a good place to be lost in, not bad. But some of the motifs of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale seemed too contrived and took away from this story. For instance - the oven, and the path of breadcrumbs seemed forced inclusions in THIS story of Hansel and Gretel. A story as haunting as this one would be stronger without taking the reader down the path of a childhood tale.
I doubt I will forget this book anytime soon. I may forget some details, but the harsh, cold horror of the war and the effects on this Polish village will remain vivid in my mind.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great concept. ok writing. but the story line had few parallels to the fairy tale. and that's ok. Read morePublished 2 months ago by rye new yorker
This is a great read. Characters well developed with a clever plot line.Published 2 months ago by Jane Goulart
This is a great retelling of the Hansel and Gretel Story. It was realistic but magically all at the same time. A Must read!Published 2 months ago by Laura
Great book. Very fast read. I couldn't put it down. I loved it!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Another good story on life of people and children surviving life during Hitlers reign. An awakening to what horrors people went through and survived.Published 5 months ago by suzy q