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Book Review: The Auschwitz Violin – Maria Àngels Anglada

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About The Auschwitz Violin

The Auschwitz Violin

In the winter of 1991, at a concert in Krakow, an older woman with a marvellously pitched violin meets a fellow musician who is instantly captivated by her instrument. When he asks her how she obtained it, she reveals the remarkable story behind its origin. . . Imprisoned at Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp, Daniel feels his humanity slipping away. Treasured memories of the young woman he loved and the prayers that once lingered on his lips become hazier with each passing day. Then a visit from a mysterious stranger changes everything, as Daniel’s former identity as a crafter of fine violins is revealed to all. The camp’s two most dangerous men use this information to make a cruel wager: If Daniel can build a successful violin within a certain number of days, the Kommandant wins a case of the finest burgundy. If not, the camp doctor, a torturer, gets hold of Daniel. And so, battling exhaustion, Daniel tries to recapture his lost art, knowing all too well the likely cost of failure. Written with lyrical simplicity and haunting beauty-and interspersed with chilling, actual Nazi documentation-The Auschwitz Violin is more than just a novel: it is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of beauty, art, and hope to triumph over the darkest adversity.

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Review: The Auschwitz Violin

When I was at school I read I Am David and it is a book that has stayed with me for years.  I bought a copy as an adult and read it again – to me, it was just as moving despite my extra years.  Perhaps even because of them.  I have a feeling that The Auschwitz Violin will have a similar impact on the current generation.

This is an incredibly moving tale of a violin maker – or luthier – who is interred in a Nazi camp during World War II.  Although he tells the officials he is a carpenter by profession, a chance encounter leads to his real profession of luthier being revealed.  I don’t want to give too much about the story away – there is a real beauty in how it unfolds – but his talent brings him to the attention of some of the higher camp officials and a cruel bet means he needs to draw on everything he has learned in order to save his own life.

The Auschwitz Violin is beautifully told from the point of view of a quiet, hard-working prisoner.  Daniel shows a quiet strength – he is unwilling to be broken by the cruelty of the camp’s guards or the barbarity of the rituals but he is also wise and knows when to speak and when to stay silent.  This is a short book – a mere short episode in the life of Daniel – and is almost a snapshot of a barbaric and heartbreaking time; however, it is no less poignant for that.

I thought this was an immensely touching read and I felt a real lump in my throat as I reach the book’s conclusion.  I know this – like I Am David – will stay with me for many years.  For me, a 5 out of 5 read.

Verdict: 5/5

Source: Reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.

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