A superb book that I struggled to put down as I just wanted to keep reading. This story was historical fiction at its best, this is one of my favourite eras but this is the first book I’ve read where the story is based in Berlin and we see it from the perspective of the citizens of Berlin.
When we look back at World War II we rarely stop to think that many Germans who weren’t Jewish also didn’t agree with Hitler and just wanted the bombing and destruction of their wonderful city to stop.
Written on a dual timeline we meet Beth who is moving to Berlin to work in the zoo, she is keen to solve a puzzle from her mothers past and through this we get to visit the zoo and its keepers in Berlin at the height of the war.
A compelling read based on the history of the Berlin zoo, it grips you as you read about the poor living conditions for both the zoo keepers and the animals as they struggle to keep as many animals as possible alive. By the end of the war they were left with less than 100 animals due to the heavy fire that the zoo undertook. I have learnt so much about what the citizens of Berlin faced through the war torn years and how severe the punishments were if anyone spoke out against what was happening around them.
These wonderful characters will stay with me for a long time from across both timelines as well as the memories of the wonderful animals they lost and those they fought so hard to save from not only from the constant bombings but also the arrival of the Red Army.
A heartwrenching story that pulls you in and breaks your heart as you keep turning the pages.
Two women. One shocking wartime secret. And a family mystery just waiting to be discovered…
Berlin Zoo, 1943:Ten-year-old Adelaide and her newborn sister are orphaned after a devastating night of bombing. Heartbroken and frightened, Adelaide runs to her mother’s closest friend, Katharina Heinroth, and the kind zookeeper takes the two little girls under her protection. As the bombing intensifies, Adelaide tries to shut out the horrors of war by caring for her tiny sister and playing with the adorable baby monkeys. But when Katharina organises a dangerous operation to enable children and animals to escape the battle-scarred city, something goes wrong. And Adelaide has to promise her adopted mother to keep a shocking secret. A secret that will change Adelaide’s life forever.
Berlin Zoo, 2019: Bethan Taylor notices the elderly lady sitting on the bench next to her seems confused, her thoughts flitting between past and present. Ada talks of her childhood, played out in an underground bunker beneath the animal enclosures during the war. As Ada’s story unfolds, Bethan is surprised to hear a name she recognises…
Katharina Heinroth is at the top of a list of German names Bethan found in a hidden compartment of her late mother’s jewellery box. Bethan’s father couldn’t tell her anything about the crumpled piece of paper and she’s been searching for the meaning ever since.
As the two women are brought together by the pain of the past can they help each other to heal? And after decades of silence, can Ada help Bethan to uncover a long-buried family mystery?
An unforgettable and heart-wrenching novel of a brave orphan girl and a shocking wartime secret. Inspired by a true WW2 story and perfect for fans of Orphan Train, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Alice Network.
Available to purchase here
Meet the Author
Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels. Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers.
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