BOOK REVIEW: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Adele Von Bron is Austria’s Sweetheard, a stunningly talented young violinist, darling of the Third Reich. But she has a secret; she’s helping the love of her life, Vladimir the merchant’s son, smuggle Jews out of the city.

Sera James is a New York art gallery owner obsessed with finding a painting she last saw when she was eight. The first clue in a long time comes in the form of William Hanover. Will she find the painting of the Holocaust musician?

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

 

I was given a copy of The Butterfly and the Violin to review and, as a history student and avid German history enthusiast, it caught my attention instantly. The story is split between Sera’s search for the painting of Adele and the story of Adele herself in the years 1939-1945. 

It covered an aspect of the Nazi regime that wasn’t touched upon in the history lessons; that of the Orchestras at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other such hidden atrocities. 

Woman silhouette playing violin in sunset light

 

As the story progresses, the characters develop, the story broadens and the historical accuracy doesn’t waver. This is possibly in part due to Cambron’s degree in art history. The sequence of Adele’s life isn’t narrated in chronological order but as long as the reader pays attention to the dates at the top of the chapters there is no disruption in the storyline.

I found myself entranced in the narrative, unable to lure myself away. I’d finished the book in one sitting without realising, and when I looked up I found my eyes were blurred with tears. 

Having never read anything by Cambron before I had been unsure as to what to expect. I found myself not only pleasantly surprised, but shocked at how emotionally invested in her characters I had become. Her creation came to life on the page and made me laugh with Paul, weep with Vladimir and encourage with Omara.

As there are other works by this author I will be acquiring them all. I will also, thanks to her superb skill of weaving her story into the tapestry of the past, be doing research into the lives of the labour camps across the Nazi controlled territory. It was during the course of reading the book that I realised one important flaw in my education up to this point; whilst learning about Nazi Germany, we were taught the persecution of the Jews and other ‘unsuitable’ peoples as a concept, as a statistic. It is books like The Butterfly and the Violin that open our eyes to it, that bridge the gap of over 70 years and allow the gaunt faces of the past to simmer into view. They become unavoidable, more tangible than memory of an atrocity. In an age where people are far removed from their culture and heritage, it is books like this, and authors like Cambron, that realign the focus. 

 

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