In a place where hope struggles to survive and lives are torn apart, Hadassah Benjamin will do whatever it takes to save her people.
"And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"
Hadassah is hiding in plain sight as Stella Muller, secretary to SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at Theresienstadt. In 1944 the camp is a stopping point from which many are sent to Auschwitz. As she puts her life on the line to try and save her people she suspects that the Colonel has a tender heart despite his role as an SS officer. As their relationship grows, they will have to face their drastic differences. With this unconventional love Hadassah struggles to find the meaning behind it all. She does not understand how God could abandon His people to slaughter. But has the Lord brought them together for a bigger plan? Will Stella be able to save her people as well as the man she has grown to love?
A book written about the atrocities of the Holocaust is never easy to read. It is full of emotion and the history is tragic. Kate Breslin did not soften the details of the horrors of the second World War, even though this is a romance. However, she did give us a new perspective of love during the war. I was drawn in by the intriguing story line. I had never imagined a romance like this. However, there are true stories of similar relationships taking place: Edith Hahn Beer and Helena Citronova. Although Stella and Aric's story is different, it is a wonderful book. In every page you can feel the battle raging within Stella as she falls deeper in love with Aric. There were many times that I found myself grinning from ear to ear while reading one page and crying on the next. Be prepared for a wealth of emotion to overcome you as you read this book, but it is worth it! For Such a Time is a truly remarkable story of redemption through faith. We are reminded that God's love for us never fails and His forgiveness is never out of reach.
Debs Dozen: For such a time as this, you will be our peoples salvation.
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin is a thought-provoking book, which made me pause and ponder several times. The heroine in the story, Stella Muller (Hadassah), is modeled on Esther. She, too, will be the salvation of her people. Set in Theresienstadt (Terezin), the story recounts Stellas rescue from Dachau and her journey to health and determination as the Kommandants secretary. Aric Schmidt, the Kommandant of Theresienstadt, is a decorated war hero to the Nazis. After being wounded in a battle against the Russians, he is rewarded with this post following his recovery. Touring Dachau, he came upon Stella on a firing squad line still holding the hand of a little girl who had just been killed by the squad. Compelled to rescue her, he takes her to his home in Theresienstadt, allows her to recover, and then uses her as his secretary.
Providentially, her uncle, Morty, is imprisoned in the ghetto at Theresienstadt, and they are reunited. Aric does not know that Stella is really Hadassah Benjamin, but believes she is an Aryan who has been imprisoned through a mishap over her papers (which actually are false). Morty is the last of the Jewish Elders still alive there and has the gruesome task of picking the prisoners who are to go on the trains to Auschwitz. Joseph, a young Jewish boy whom the Kommandant has made his houseboy, is the go-between for Morty and Stella.
This was a very hard story to read. I didnt want to remember the atrocities that the Nazis inflicted upon the Jews during WWII. I didnt want to face the hardships that they lived with on a daily basis. Perhaps the most telling scene for me was when the Kommandant forced one of his officers to eat a bowl of the potato soup that was being served to the Jews. The officer ate it and immediately vomited. How awful it must have been to have had to eat rotten potato soup to survive!
After having said all that, I will still recommend that you read For Such a Time. The story, although ugly in the situation, is still a story of hope and redemption and love. You will fall in love with Stella and Joseph and Helen and ache for Morty and Leo and Yakov and the others in the ghetto. You will agonize with the Kommandant, Aric, as he tries to ascertain who he is and what he has become. For Such a Time will be that unforgettable book for you. Four stars.
Kate Breslin is a Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest. She now lives in Seattle and has a son and a grandson. She spent fifteen years as a bookseller. She loves classical movies, the outdoors and gardening. Her favorite authors are Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis Higgs, Stephanie Landsem, and Julie Garwick.
When I interviewed her she told me she chose this topic because of a parallel story she had read about a WWII Nazi concentration camp. She had been reading Esther and asked herself if she could bring Esthers story to modern times. Each chapter starts with a relevant quote from the Book of Esther.
She has received much acclaim for For Such a Time. The book is up for a Christy and two Carol Awards as well as a Romance Writers of America award. She won Christian Retailings 2015 Best-Selling Award for First Time Author. Her next book, Not By Sight, has just released.
I asked Kate what she had learned about herself while writing For Such a Time. She told me she learned to finally hear her calling and have the courage to follow it. She feels she needs to stop writing for the general market and to do what God wants her to do.
I don't believe I could love this story more if I tried. It was achingly sweet; so beautiful yet so hard to read what those people had to go through. I am amazed at how the story fit together and how the author can make you fall in love with an SS officer in a Nazi concentration camp. Never in a million years would I thought I could do such a thing but God's grace shines through and His love of humanity slowly melts your heart. Great job Mrs. Breslin, I cannot wait to see where God takes your stories next!
I usually do not like movies or books about slavery or Nazism because it angers and saddens me. But I was curious how the author would weave the story of Esther with the back drop of World War II and concentration camps. I thought it was done well. I am passing this book along to a friend.
If you like historical fiction with a little romance thrown in, then you HAVE to read this book. I missed a lot of sleep because I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. You will be surprised at the turn of every page.